Modern Weaponry

Bone wrist guard, Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska, prehistoric. PM 41-29-10/23206
Revolver, Yugoslavia (made in Austria), Silver work on butt of gun. PM 981-9-40/9210
“Keto,” bow guard bracelet of silver, turquoise & leather, Navajo, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, about 1900. PM 13-26-10/85235
Stone pipe, Indiana. This stone pipe has taken the tobacco pipe shape and cleverly turned it into a pistol shape. The individual or cultural group of this pipe’s maker is unknown. PM 78-52-10/15696
Charger, powder flask of horn, Tibet. Powder flasks, or horns, were visible when carried and both their shape and decoration had strong regional traditions. PM 13-24-60/84783

The advent of firearms and other weaponry began to change not only the practice of warfare but the nature of weapon ornamentation. Initially, the stocks and grips of firearms, as well as the powder horns associated with them, might be decorated. When it was not practical to decorate the weapon itself, a holster or gun case might be embellished instead.

The Industrial Revolution ushered in a new era of warfare waged with mass armies and standardized weapons. Rank and file soldiers were typically prohibited from altering their weapons or uniforms. Initially, officers were permitted to slightly embellish their uniforms or have decorated personal swords, but eventually these individual efforts also disappeared. However, even in this age of mass-produced warfare and weaponry, soldiers found creative new avenues for artistic expression.

Sixteen items on display