An elaborate Malay matchlock musket
Malaysia, 18th/19th century
H. 165 cm / Weight 5.5 kgs
A beautiful example of a Malaysian musket, also called satingar, bears an Indo-Portuguese style matchlock (or « serpentine »). The long octagonal smoothbore barrel is fixed to a black wooden structure by two copper-decorated plaques. The grip and the system are decorated with copper mounts finely chiselled and engraved, with a rich decoration of garlands, interlacings and flowers. On the system, the « S » element holding the fuse takes the form of a canine.
Fun story on the Malay matchlock: History often credits the Portuguese with introducing firearms in Asia. However, in 1511, they were particularly surprised when, attacking Mekkala’s harbour in Malaysia, they were welcomed by heavy artillery. The famous Portuguese conqueror Alfonso Albuquerque wrote in his memoirs about the Malaysian welcoming that “all the artillery with its appurtenances was of such workmanship that it could not be excelled, even in Portugal” (Commentarios de Afonso Albuquerque, Lisbon, 1576).