Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran

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The book presents a thorough and detailed analysis of the introduction and development of historical firearms in Iran. The present book is a result of years of study on historical Persian manuscripts on firearms making, classification and usage and as well as an analysis of the Persian firearms kept in the Military Museum of Tehran. These artifacts are described, analyzed and presented in the catalogue by showcasing magnificent colored pictures of 100 artifacts which belonged to the personal royal collection of Nassereddin Shah Qajar and 12 artifacts from the Military Historical Museum of Artillery in St. Petersburg (Russian Federation). The first chapter of the book, titled “Matchlock Muskets”, deals with the history of the introduction and development of matchlock muskets in Iran. The next chapter, “Flintlock Muskets”, describes the flintlock mechanism and flintlock muskets. Then the third chapter, “Percussion Cap Lock Muskets”, analyzes Persian muskets equipped with the percussion cap system. The next chapter, “Pistols in Iran”, analyzes Persian flintlock and percussion cap pistols. The following chapter, “Gun and Pistol Accessories”, describes the accessories to load the guns and pistols. Chapter six, “Cannons and Rockets”, analyzes the history and development of cannons and rockets in Iran. The next chapter titled “Persian Manuscripts on Firearms” offers a complete translation, annotation and explanation of three important Persian manuscripts on firearms. The manuscripts are as follows:

 a) An untitled Safavid manuscript on casting bronze cannons – This is the earliest known Persian manuscript on firearms from the Safavid period and deals with casting bronze cannons. This manuscript is kept in the Central Library of the University of Tehran with the number 2085. The end of the manuscript is signed with the inscriptions Kamtarin bande-ye dargāh Soleymān qurči-ye mezrāq (the Lowest Servant of the Court, Soleymān who holds and takes care of a short spear [for the king]). Thus it can be assumed that it is written by Soleymān. The manuscript consists of 51 pages and seventeen drawings.

b) Another manuscript is titled Resālei dar Fešang [Treatise on Rockets] and is written by Mohammad Rezā Tabrizi in 1256 hijra (1840 C.E.) who was a mohandesbāši (head of engineering units). This manuscript is a combination of a translation of two different Congreve manuscripts and the writer translates some parts directly and some parts are written and added by Mohammad Rezā Tabrizi himself as he says that he was under the impression that Congreve did not explain clearly and wanted to hide important aspects. It has ten plates. Although the paintings resemble the paintings of Congreve books on rockets, all soldiers in Tabrizi’s book are depicted with Qajar-period uniforms of the Persian army holding the Iranian flag of the lion and the sun. The enemy is shown holding the Ottoman flag and wearing Ottoman uniforms. The manuscript consists of 99 pages.

c) Another Persian manuscript is titled Resāle-ye Qurxāne [Treatise on Arsenal] and  is written by Mohammad Bāqer Tabrizi in 1257 hijra (1841 C.E.). This manuscript is kept in the National Library of Iran with the number 1766. The first part consists of several chapters about the gunnery tools for cannons . This part offers a detailed account about how cannons were loaded and shot. Additionally, it provides information about how gunnery tools were made and how they functioned. It also provides information on mortars and howitzers. The second part is about the rockets and their accessories. This part offers valuable information about war rockets and how they were shot. Finally, the third part is about the fireworks that were used during celebrations. The manuscript has 258 pages.

At the end of the book some other important Persian manuscripts on firearms are introduced and explained briefly. The second part of the book has a catalogue describing and showcasing 112 examples of Persian firearms with colored pictures. These consist of matchlock muskets (26 examples starting from the ones made during the Shah Abbas period with the help of the Shirley brothers), flintlock muskets (26 examples) and percussion cap muskets (13 examples), flintlock pistols (5 examples) and percussion cap pistols (12 examples), bronze and iron cannons (11 examples), swivel guns (4 examples), mortars (2 examples), howitzers (3 examples) and gun accessories (10 examples of gunpowder and primer flasks, and gunpowder measure). The first part of the book has 220 pictures accompanying the text. The catalogue has over 400 colored pictures on 112 historical arms and armor from Iran. 100 items are from the Military Museum of Tehran (Saa’d Abad Palace Museum) and 12 items from the Military Historical Museum of Artillery in St. Petersburg (Russian Federation).

Additional information

Weight 1,4 kg
Dimensions 31 × 22 × 3 cm

Dr. Manouchehr Moshtag Khorasani




Niloufar Books, Frankfurt am Main


November 2018


Over 220 pictures in the text part and 750 pictures in the catalog all in full color


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