The collection of fire arms at the museum is rare and varied

The first weapons used by the Stone Age man were knives, axes, spears fitted with sharpened flints. Around 1300 BC iron swords and shields showed up. Cavalry first appeared in about 1300 AD on the battle fields of western Asia and the horse man, armed with sword and lance could run down the infantry easily.

Challenge to the supremacy of Cavalry came first, from long bow and next, cross bow and next, fire arms which date from 1326 A.D. The first firing mechanism was matchlock, introduced in the 15th century. It gave way, in 17th century, to the flint lock, in general use until 1840. Muskets with rifled barrels came in 19th century. With the invention of percussion cap (a small copper cap or cylinder) which also made possible the use of cartridge, revolver became possible. The fully automatic rifle appeared in 1908. Machine gun of the modern type followed in later half of 19th century.

The Salar Jung Museum’s collection of arms comprises 1,236 traditional weapons and 188 fire arms. Besides India, the Museum’s arms come from countries like England, France, Germany, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Persia and China. Majority of them show decorations done in enamelling, damascening, engraving, jewelling and embossing.

In the mixture of Museum’s swords, daggers, guptis (concealed swords), shields, battle-axes, spears, and armour parts like helmets, armguards, coat of mail and char-aina (four protective metal plates) the visitors will find a variety of materials and designs used.

The Indian rulers whose names are inscribed on the swords and daggers are the Mughul emperors Humayum, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangazeb and Bahadur Shah and Qutub Shahi rulers Abdullah Qutub Shah and Sultan Abul Hasan Tana Shah. About English swords, mention may be made of a sword presented in 1875 by the Prince of Wales to Sir Salar Jung I (1829-1883). The blade was manufactured by Wilkinson in London. A curved sword is a present to Sir Salar Jung I from Viscount Kitchner, the then commander-in-chief of Indian army. The blade is beautifully etched.

The collection of fire arms is equally rare and varied. The flint-locks, match-locks, repercussion-locks, muzzle-loading, breech-loading and automatic guns, blunderbusses, ordinary pistols and revolvers ranging from 17th century to 20th century are interesting. Well-known gun manufacturers represented in the collection are: Smith and Wesson, Samuel Rock, Devisme A Paris, Wood and Sons. The pistol bearing inscription referring to the warrior prince Tipu Sultan is a proud possession of the Museum.


Salar Jung goes solarFebruary 1, 2013

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