Here's the latest addition to my collection of treasures from the Nepal cache.
Ever since I saw the pictures in Treasure is where you find it
, I have been fascinated by the accumulation of detached flintlocks recovered from Laghan Silekhana. Further reading in Guns of the Gurkhas
made me even more eager to study one of these fascinating relics firsthand. My interest is as much in the markings and historical provenance as in the lock's potential utility as a spare part. It seems that few if any intact Nepalese flintlock muskets have been retrieved, but the locks themselves are important historical finds because their design enables them to be dated and sourced with some accuracy. The description by Christian Cranmer in Treasure
"The quality and dimensions of the locks indicate English make, but there are no marks on the components other than numerals on the inside of the lock plate. These could be Hindi as much as Negari, but the arbiter is the mark on the outside of the lock. Resembling a European coat of arms, no doubt intentionally, this consists of a traditional Nepalese wooden temple supported by two lions, each bearing a lance and pennant. The precise dating of the mark is still a matter for conjecture, and it may have disappeared after the fall of Bhimsen Thapa in 1837. Though a few kukri bayonets have been seen with a mark of a lion, lance and pennant, and often accompanied by commemorative inscriptions,"Copyright 2010 Spiral JRS
" no firearms other than the flintlocks have been found with the coat of arms mark."
The lion and pennant also appears on the langets of Nepalese-made sword bayonets for Brunswick-pattern rifles and muskets:
John Walter adds further information about the mark on the Windus-pattern locks:
"Each interpretation is different,though clearly intended to follow the same pattern. However, crudity hinders the interpretation of the design, which has the appearance of European arms executed by an engraver with no grasp of the principles of heraldry.... [T]he mark is Nepalese. It consists of two lions, each bearing a lance and pennant, flanking a representation of a wooden temple that still stands in Kathmandu."
"Derived from the Nepalese words kath, 'wood', and mandir, 'temple' (which obviously also provide the city name), what is now known as the Kashthamandap was erected in 1596 by King Laxmi Malla - constructed, according to legend, from the wood of a single tree."
"Though altered, it is reputedly the oldest surviving structure in Kathmandu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Gorakhnath."
Gurkhas (also spelled Gorkhas) take their name from the legendary Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath, the guardian deity of the Gurkha kings whose blessing was sought in all their battles. The saintly Gorakhnath is said to have meditated in a cave, leaving his footprints in the rock in front. The Nepalese coat of arms contains the same footprints, which are also found as touchmarks on Nepalese-made barrels believed to have been used with the British-made Windus pattern flintlocks.
This engraving depicts the Treaty of Sugauli, ending the Anglo-Nepal War. East India Company troops are on the left, Gorkhas on the right.
Closer inspection shows the Gorkhas to be carrying muskets with 'kukri' (chupri) bayonets.
It is certainly a possibility that this flintlock, bearing the lions and temple of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa, was on one of the muskets shown in the picture.
I'll be taking my time cleaning this one up, documenting my finds photographically as I go.
I was lucky (thanks, Alex) to get one with the original flint and leather still intact.
Several people have expressed interest in the details of these Nepalese Windus pattern locks, so if anyone has any requests let me know. Also would appreciate any suggestions on cleaning tips (trying not to remove patina, so currently not intending to use ultrasonic) and disassembly.