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Combination Gun Whip

Place of Origin: RAJASTHAN

Date: 18th–19th Century

Overall Length: 635mm

Reference: 244

Status: Available

Full Description:

Derived from the horse whips that were long used by the nomadic peoples of the Steppes (such as the nagaika of the Cossacks), this combination weapon is extremely rare. The long, cylindrical handle is made from iron and generously decorated at each end with chequerboard sections of gold and silver koftgari, each square with an identical floral design within it; while a denser arrangement of bouquets adorns the centre. Both ends conclude in silver-gilt iron pommels, the lower being larger and having a ring.

The gun bore is hidden by a screw-in ramrod when not in use. The mid-section unscrews, to reveal a nipple upon which a percussion cap is fitted. Once re-assembled the lower end is unscrewed where it remains attached to the body of the pistol by means of a spring-mounted rod. This is then pulled back to 'cock' the gun (using the lower pommel with the ring for leverage). A small trigger on the under-body fires the gun.

This particular example is one of only two known Indian gun whips, with the other residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exceptional collection[1]. While the Museum’s example is unadorned and incomplete it shares characteristics with this one, including the elaborate and slightly mysterious way that the braided leather whip is lashed to the handle—perhaps there is an object or talisman woven into the whip.

With gun whips being so rare, the researcher must look further afield for comparisons. One such is a walking-stick gun in the Royal Collection[2] which has a similar method of cocking and was likely gifted to the then Prince of Wales by Maharao Raja Ram Singh of Bundi (1811 to 1889). A similarly shaped steel walking stick is described by Hendley in his 1892 work Damascening on Steel or Iron as Practised in India[3]. This is decorated in a comparable way to the whip—with a diamond pattern—and said to have been made in Sirohi, a location from which Maharao Raja Ram Singh is thought to have bought weapons from.

 

[2] K. Meghani, Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India, 1875–6, Royal Collection Trust, 2017, p.164, ref. RCIN 11484.

[3] T. H. Hendley, Damascening on Steel or Iron as Practised in India, W. Griggs & Sons Ltd, 1892, pl.13.