The exact origin of these Hmong muskets, seems to lay in the border regions of Yunnan, Vietnam and Laos. Called after the Hmong people who live in these areas. The muskets were used for hunting monkeys, however, journals of American military advisors who operated in Laos during the 1960’s and 1970’s were often confronted with these muskets being still in use. Karl Döhring writes in his book ‘Der Indische Kulturkreis: Siam ‘Land und Volk’, Band I-III’ that the Karen people who lived in the mountain regions of North Siam also used these rifles.
The construction of these muskets is quite simple, it features a matchlock or flintlock and is equipped with a long, smooth bore barrel. The wooden stock has a distinguished pistol grip and is decorated with numeral silver bands. Jacques Lemoine shows a blueprint of the Hmong musket in his ‘Un village vert du Haut Laos’ which clearly shows the muskets function. The lock was usually covered with a piece of hide, to protect the firing mechanism from the elements, keeping the gunpowder dry. The flintlocks were attached with resin, in contrast to their European counterparts which had the flint screwed on to the cock.
A fine antique example dating from the late 19th to early 20th century, showing a wonderful dark patination and features a functioning mechanism, which I left untouched due to it frangibility. A piece of cultural importance and despite its simplicity, a wonderful piece of ethnographic handicraft.
Condition: Very good, in functioning condition, traces of ware due to it’s age and some old cracks in the stock.
Stock length: 82cm
Barrel length: 120cm
Barrel muzzle: 11mm
Total length: 137cm
Provenance: French private collection
Literature: Karl Döhring, Der Indische Kulturkreis: Siam ‘Land und Volk’, Band I-III, 1923.