golden guns

Because of current events—namely Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti since today facing court again—and because I just discovered something different on which I will report later, I felt the urge to rewrite and revive an old entry I originally posted over at ethno::log:
 

An engraved Heckler&Koch MP5k
 

Bruce Sterling received the above picture from William Gibson, posted it at his weblog and commented: “Wow, a custom-detailed, one of a kind, post-consumer-altered MP5!” [Nitpick: a Heckler&Koch MP5k] Ain’t that a fine example of aesthetic technology adaption? Envision an exhibition in an ethnographical museum, showing weapons like the above one—and of course the gold-plated AK-47s from Iraq’s ex-elite:
 

A gold-plated AK-47 from Iraq
 

The wooden barrel handle is engraved in Arabic:
 

Detail of the gold-plated AK-47 from Iraq
 

The engraving reads: “Present by his Excellency Saddam Hussein, President of the Republic of Iraq”—thanks to Kurt Beck for the translation. There were more golden guns discovered in Iraq, for example this Dragunov sniper rifle:
 

A gold-plated Dragunov from Iraq
 

And now envision the size and kind of crowd that would flock into an exhibition like that ;-) Seriously: Those indeed are examples of the acculturation, or even cultural appropriation, of industrial artefacts by modifying them; and therefore an issue of sociocultural anthropology. Both, choice of the weapons, and the kind of modification are culturally informed. Decoration of weapons with ornaments is nothing special per se—it is done especially with hand guns like pistols and revolvers or hunting rifles. The examples in the pictures are peculiar, because we deal here with fully automatic weaponry, which is designed for combat, and combat only—that’s the context of weapons like that.
 

golden pics via smugmug and alaska rifle club

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