When one thinks of classic German sporting arms, a picture that often comes to mind is of multi-barreled combination guns with ornate raised-relief stocks, fish-scale checkering, horn trigger guards and deep carving of furred and feathered game. However, think of guns by Krieghoff, in Ulm, and the picture is quite different.
Since the late 1990s Krieghoff has commissioned each year a special engraving project called “The Gun of the Year” that is unveiled at IWA OutdoorClassics, in Nuremberg. Past examples have been engraved on themes as diverse as Abraham Lincoln and the Galápagos Islands’ flora and fauna. This year the subject is Naresuan the Great, regarded as a national hero in Thailand, where he liberated the country from Burma (now Myanmar).
Italian engraving atelier Creative Art embellished the gun with a romanticized pictorial account of the 1593 Battle of Satong River, where Naresuan decisively defeated his enemies. On the right side of the receiver Naresuan can be seen shooting the Burmese crown prince, Mingyi Swa, with a musket. On the left side a different account of the battle has Naresuan killing the prince in single-handed combat from the back of a fighting elephant. The underside features the king in formal regalia celebrating his victory in a ceremony symbolically declaring independence from Burma. All of the scenes are framed by traditional Thai ornamentation.
Naresuan the Great’s victory is considered such an important event in the founding of modern Thailand that it is observed annually on January 18 as Royal Thai Armed Forces Day. According to a Krieghoff press release, the 2022 Gun of the Year is valued at $145,000 and was “sold shortly after its unveiling.”
For more information on Krieghoff’s Gun of the Year program, visit krieghoff.com/engraving/guns-of-the-year.