The Waving Flag: Islamic Persian Camel Gunner

Thursday 23 May 2013

Islamic Persian Camel Gunner

I am never going to make progress with my Renaissance Persian army if I keep getting distracted. My latest distraction came about whilst reading the Field of Glory lists for the Moghuls & Persians. Both have camel mounted light artillery! This was too unusual not to investigate. The end result is this test piece:

It's an OTC10 Ottoman Camel Gunner from Donnington.

Damien at Donnington was really helpful providing a photo as there wasn't one on the web site (see later).

As you can see from the photos above the model is really smoothly cast and a pleasure to paint. I like the way the camel's head is turned away from the cannon. Although when the castings arrived I wasn't totally convinced by a tassel on the right hand side of the camel's head. I presume it's there to protect the camel's face from the blast:

Damien assures me it's a tassel fixed over the camel's ears but I think it masks the camel's face too much and camel's faces are to expressive to mask even in 15 mm. So, with a scalpel and some needle files I removed it whilst restoring the bridle strap. I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to attempt this but the files helped produce a nice smooth finish to match the rest of the model. I'll try painting one with the tassel intact but I've removed tassels on 4 of the 6 I bought.

Before I decided to remove the tassel I did a bit of research with surprising results. Firstly, I think I've found the image used by the sculptor but I can't find out where this image came from:

Secondly, there's also a great 1999 article on "The History of Firearms in Persia" by Professor Rudi Matthee which contains this image:

Overall, there seems to be some confusion over how they were used in practice. The Donnington model is side mounted yet there are many mentions of saddle mounted guns and many illustrations, and much later examples in museums, of guns mounted on the front of the saddle. Similarly, there are mentions of the guns being fired from a kneeling and moving camels! Reloading a side mounted gun on the move must have been interesting.

If you have any further sources or images please leave a comment.

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