A good example of an Ottoman period Dzeferdar Miquelet Rifle.
The Miquelet is an early form of the flintlock, which became popular throughout the Ottoman Empire from the 17th-20th century. Most of these were elaborately decorated, most of which are preserved in Istanbul and were specifically made for the Ottoman Imperial Guard (The Met Museum).
The steel barrel, now showing signs of age, is well constructed and sturdy. The lock may be a local copy of a North-Indian Miquelet. The lock is finely made. The stock is typical of these types of rifles. It is crafted out of dark hardwood and is covered with mother-of-pearl inserts and brass lining. The end of the butt is capped with a brass plate with an openwork design. The mother-of-pearl design extends for the first quarter of the barrel length to provide a distinctive look to the barrel – two thirds of which is hardwood and steel; secured with brass caps. The mother-of-pearl for these rifles was usually a European, especially Italian, import and cut in the Risan in the Bay of Kotor (Elgood, p76). Throughout the barrel, there are elegantly etched designs on the steel framework. These examples were classed as the best and intended for use in Istanbul. This rifle, uses, the then standard, flintlock mechanism. The term ‘flintlock’ is used to describe the firearms that use a flint striking ignition mechanism. This method was used from the early 17th century till the 19th century, where the percussion cap and cartridge cap replaced it.
This type of rifle is very sought after and rare to find. Dr Robert Elgood has the following to say about these types of rifles:
One of the most beautiful and sought-after Balkan guns is the džeferdar or jeferdar, from the Turkish cevherdar, derived from the Arabic and Persian jauhar or johar, meaning lustre or jewel.
A near identical example was seized from the captured Mamluk Chieftain Mustafa Pasha who was defeated by Napoleon at the battle of Abukir 1799. It was gifted to Napoleon by Sergeant Vigo Roussillon, the soldier who took the Pasha captive. Now in the collection of Bruno Ledoux. The Met Museum, Accession number 36.25.2148 houses a Miquelet Gun from the 18th century, Balkan and features a similar design and barrel end – a mythical monster like creature.
All in all a well made and preserved Dzeferdar Miquelet Rifle with minor losses to the mother-of-pearl and some general pitting. Otherwise, a prized addition for seasoned collectors due to the scarcity of such an item.
Further/Suggested readings and references
Alexander, David G. The Arts of War: Arms and Armour of the 7th to 19th centuries. Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art ; v. 21, Vol. 21. London: Nour Foundation, 1992. p. 126, s.v. no. 72.
Alexander, David, Stuart W. Pyhrr, and Will Kwiatkowski. Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. pp. 258–60, no. 108, ill.
Blackmore, Howard. Guns and Rifles of the World. London: B. T. Batsford, 1965. fig. 273, ill.
Robert Elgood; The arms of Greece and her Balkan neighbours in the Ottoman period, Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2009. Pages 72-81.
Bruno Ledoux; Napoleon A Private View Treasures from the collection of Bruno Ledoux Collection, Abrams, Pages 102 – 103