17th century Portuguese cannon a blast at National Museum
October 8, 2018 | 9:51 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Visitors to the National Museum can now check out a Portuguese cannon that dates back to the 17th century, in addition to the many other historical artefacts in the building.

The cannon in question was classified as a falconet – a kind of artillery piece that was very effective against infantry – and was made in 1643 in the Portuguese colony of Macao by Manuel Tavares Bocarro, who was one of the most famed weapon makers of that era.

Bocarro also ran an artillery foundry and gunpowder magazine in Macao, and fashioned this particular weapon from brass, making sure to provide a rich detailed history of Portugal to anyone who came across it. Across the weapon are inscribed the words Viva el rei do Joao IV, which in English translates to “Long live King John IV”.

Further inscriptions feature the name “Macau”– the place where the cannon was smelted – with the words encaza da polvra 1643, which means “powder coating 1643”, referring to when the piece was made and the kind of ammunition it used. A spokesperson for the National Museum said: “The weapon is richly decorated with acanthus leaves on the muzzle, barrel and breech, while the handles are designed to look like Chinese-style lions.”

“The falconet was a lightweight cannon developed in the late 9th century AH/15th century CE for use on land, and eventually at sea. It resembles an oversized matchlock musket,” said the spokesperson.

Visitors to the museum were happy to see so many exhibits of Oman on display.

“This is a very well maintained and comprehensive museum about Omani culture and artefacts,” said Pedro P. “I would truly recommend a visit for a couple of hours, especially when it’s hot outside.”

“It’s everything a national museum should be,” added Luis Silveiro. “The architectural lines are classy, simple and notably beautiful. The exhibits, covering every area of Oman’s cultural, religious and anthropological history are well-chosen and exquisitely laid out. If you only visit one museum in Muscat, choose this one.”

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