Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Koh-I-Noor : History's Mystery
The newest entrant out television screen is 'Koh-I-noor' on Sahara One which went on air on 5th September, offers its share of action and suspense. The show is about finding the real Kohinoor diamond. Is the 'Kohinoor' diamond with the British a fake? Is the 'Kohinoor' still in India? Are some of the questions been raised by Sahara One Television's new suspense thriller.

I found the series to be quite gripping and interesting, though it is too early to say where it will lead. However, its a welcome change from the daily 'saas-bahu' and 'pati, patni aur woh' saagas. The series bound to be an exaggerated version of reality inorder to gain TRP rateings, according to me won't fail to create certain amount of curiousty over the 'price-less diamond'.

There was a period when Indian diamonds were very famous the world over. These included the
Koh-i-noor, Orlov, the Great Moghul, Darya-i-noor also known as 'Hope diamond', etc. These were all part of the treasure houses of the great emperors of India. Today, they are all in the hands of outsiders.

The legendary Koh-i-noor has been in the eye of the storm ever since it left the hands of its original owners - a diamond which was never bought or sold, but changed many hands. Koh-i-noor has left a trail that speaks of greed, power, murder, mayhem and unhappiness. Many believe that the Koh-i-noor was also the Great Mogul and that Babur's diamond was separate. Information gathered over the years shows that in fact, three diamonds existed: - the Great Mogul - was the Orlov, weighing 189.62 metric carats, in Kremlin; and Babur's diamond - was the Darya-i-noor, weight 175 gm and 195 metric carats, the Iranian Crown Jewels; and the Koh-i-noor re-cut, Crown Jewels, England.


History behind 'Koh-i-noor' :

Many legends say that the Koh-i-noor was mined in India, and at least 4,000 years old. It received a mention in the 1300s, when it was named in the Baburnama. One account states that
Babur got his hands on the diamond in Gujarat; another says he got it in the Deccan. But when Babur came to Agra in May 1526, the fugitive family of Vikramaditya of Gwalior in Agra most likely gave him the great diamond. There is also evidence that his son Humayun carried a large diamond that his father had handed back to him at Agra.

When the peacock throne was handed over to Nadir Shah, the hiding place of this diamond was given away. A member of Mohammad Shah's harem gave away the hiding place of Koh-i-noor. It is said that the Shah kept it hidden in his turban. So, Nadir Shah devised a plan - he ordered a grand feast to coincide with the restoration of Mohammed Shah to his throne. During the feast Nadir Shah suddenly proposed an exchange of turbans, a sign of brotherly ties and eternal friendship. Mohammed Shah was hardly likely to resist. After the exchange, Nadir Shah entered his private apartment only at night, where he unfolded the turban and found the diamond concealed within. When he set his eyes on it, he exclaimed "Koh-i-noor", meaning "Mountain of Light".

Journey to England :

The final owner was Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the backdrop of the two Sikh Wars leading to the annexation of the Punjab by the British. The hoisting of British flag was on March 29th, 1849 Lahore where Punjab was formally proclaimed a part of the British Empire in India. One of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore was:- "The gem called the Koh-i-noor which was taken from Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk by Maharajah Ranjit Singh shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England." Dr Sir John Login was entrusted with two charges: to take the Koh-i-noor out of the Toshakhana (the jewel house), and also the guardsmanship of the young Duleep Singh. It was formally handed over to the Punjab government of Sir Henry Lawrence (1806-1857), his younger brother John Lawrence (afterwards Lord Lawrence, the man who in February of 1859 would break ground on the future Lahore railroad station), and C.C. Mausel.

The Koh-i-noor sailed from Bombay in
H.M.S. Medea. It was put in an iron box and kept in a dispatch box and deposited in the Government Treasury. For security reasons, this piece of news was suppressed, even among officers of the Treasury - and withheld from Commander Lockyer, the ship's captain. HMS Medea's voyage turned out to be a perilous one - cholera broke out on board in Mauritius and the local people demanded its departure. They asked their governor to open fire and destroy the vessel if it did not respond. After leaving Mauritius, a severe gale hit the vessel that lasted for about twelve hours. They reached Plymouth, England, where the passengers and the mail were unloaded, but not the Koh-i-noor, which was forwarded to Portsmouth. From there, the two officers took the diamond to the East India House, handing it over to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the company. The Koh-i-Noor left the shores of India on April 6, 1850, and on reaching London on July 2, 1850, it was handed over to the Board of Directors of the East India Company.

The Queen's crown :

Prince Albert (Prince Consort) and Sebastian Garrard stated that the Koh-i-noor was badly cut, it is rose-not-brilliant-cut. It was decided to seek the advice of practical and experienced diamond cutters. A small steam engine was set up at Garrard's shop, while two gentlemen, Messrs Coster, Mr. Voorzanger and Mr. Fedder, travelled to London to undertake the re-cutting of the diamond. The Koh-i-noor was embedded in lead, two weeks later, after examining the stone. Mitchell thought that it had lost nearly all its yellow colour and become much whiter. The re-cutting took 38 days and cost £8000 ($40,000). The final result was an oval brilliant diamond weighing 108.93 metric carats, which meant a loss of weight of just under 43 per cent. Its was now in stellar brilliant-cut, possessing the regular 33 facets, including the table, while the pavilion has eight more facets than the regular 25 bringing the total number of facets to 66.

In 1853, it was mounted on a magnificent tiara for the Queen, which contained more than two thousand diamonds. Five years later,
Queen Victoria ordered a new regal circlet for the diamond. In 1911, Garrards made a new crown that Queen Mary wore for the coronation - it contained diamonds, among them the Koh-i-noor. In 1937, this was transferred to the crown made for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, based on Queen Victoria's regal circlet and is set in a Maltese Cross at the front of the crown.

Who's diamond is it, anyways ?

The 20th century saw a war of words over Koh-i-noor and its rightful ownership. In 1947, the government of India asked for the return of the diamond. Also, the Congress Ministry which ruled Orissa staked claim to the stone, saying it belonged to the Lord Jagannath.
Ranjit Singh's treasurer mentioned that it was the property of their estate. Pakistan's claim to the diamond was disputed by India. Shortly thereafter, a major newspaper in Teheran stated that the gem should to be returned to Iran.

Sir Olaf has pointed out that the Koh-i-noor had been in Mogul possession in Delhi for 213 years, in Afghan possession in Kandahar and Kabul for 66 years and in British possession for 127 years. Historically, it maybe difficult to pass judgement on the validity of the various claims, but on the other hand, from a gemological aspect, as a paper report said, the Indian claim is the most valid because it was in that country that it was mined.

Koh-i-noor other name of a 'deadly curse' :

It is widely believed, British kings possessed 'Koh-i-noor' without knowing how to use properly, therefore it became a mixture, more of a curse than a blessing. The history of this jewel speaks itself, the British Empire which had once expanded throughout the world ever shining like the Sun, is now restricted to a fixed territory.

This jewel is slow, belongs to Saturn, a slow moving planet, and hence affects the possessor cautiously rather than quickly. Normally it takes several years to start its effect between 10 and 25 years, it gives luck only to those who know its procedure to keep it purified.

Otherwise, it forces the possessor to dispossess his or her territory and to disturb home peace. It is equally less lucky for the queens, they are to dispossess many valuables and land to ward off its evil effects, or face some tragedy.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh got this jewel in 1813 and it affected him after 25 years and he suffered from a paralyzed attack in 1839 and died in the same year. In 1849, exactly after 10 years, the British forces toppled his kingdom, which was controlled by members of his family. Further, all of Duleep Singh's eight children died childless.

The effect of Koh-i-noor makes females or queens more possessive, self centered and self-seeking, forcing them to lose some territory, reputation and brings unhappiness at home, breaks home and ultimately may end the monarchy as per some occult reading of this Gem.

Great Briton had to struggle hard to retain possession of the
Falkland Islands also known in Spanish as the Islas Malvinas. They also had to surrender the colony of Hong Kong to China in 1997, faced the tragedy of Prince Diana in the same year, suffered reputation in Iraq attack in 2003, by facing the wrath of their people, and then new marriage of Prince Charles with Camila in 2005 and uncertainty of future King of England.

Hence Koh-i-noor has turned out to be unlucky for the Queens and the Kings as universally believed unless they observe and maintain the purity of the diamond.

( Disclaimer : the above information has been gathered from number of articles on 'Koh-i-noor', some of the sources are stated below.)

1.
Daily Excelsior
2.
Koh-i-Nur:2A Diamond's Incredible Journey
3. All about Koh-i-noor
4.
Kohinoor unlucky for British Queen?
posted at 9/14/2005 01:39:00 PM | comments (9) | permalink

9 comments:

  1. just an fyi (something i read a few years ago). Till the 16th century, the diamond mines at Golconda (near Hyderabad) were the only large diamond mines in the world. Other diamonds had been found without mining. Diamond mining opened up only later in the 16-17th century, and this became more widespread with the finding of diamonds in Africa, and other parts of the world.

    But I still can't understand the big deal about some shiny rocks...
     — Blogger Sunil, at 9/14/2005 10:40:00 PM 

  2. Sayings such as "Diamonds are for ever" and "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" add to the appeal of the stone, I guess! I much prefer emeralds!

    Phoots
     — Blogger N Varmha, at 9/15/2005 07:41:00 AM 

  3. no wonder in ancient times, most gems were kept in trust by the temples and belonged to "Gods"! interesting read.
     — Blogger blokes, at 9/15/2005 09:03:00 AM 

  4. How did Babur (from 14th cetury) meet Vikramaditya II ( from 4th century)? Time Travel?
     — Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/15/2005 09:37:00 AM 

  5. Sunil - Thanks for the info. As to your question why Diamonds are a Big Deal ??? Well...its basically the their monetary value.

    N. Varmha - You are right, i my opinion..thats why the Queen cannot get herself to part with the diamond.

    Blokes - I think most the main two reason why most jems were kept in trust of 'gods'..firstly, people wanted to please gods..so they would be showered with blessings and happiness and secondly, people who think twice before stealing anything from a temple. BUT that was in the old days....

    Anony - Sorry the mistake was on my part...i should have mentioned it more clearly. It wasnt Vikramaditya II..who personally gave the stone to Babur...but it was actually one of the family decendents of Vikramaditya II..who were considered fugitive..and had exclied to Agra from Gwalior.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/15/2005 11:02:00 AM 

  6. Great Job accumlatiing all this info!
     — Blogger Prahalathan, at 9/15/2005 02:56:00 PM 

  7. Great aggregation of content. Interesting reading!
     — Blogger Jayesh, at 9/17/2005 11:46:00 AM 

  8. Brilliant!
     — Anonymous Engagement Rings, at 12/20/2005 07:21:00 AM 

  9. Interesting how the Koh-I-Noor was put in a box and sailed to Britain.
    (It was on an simple Arm Band that tied up on the Arm Band of the Maharaja - along with 2 other large jewels - which is deplayed also displayed in the Tower of London - the real jewels in the crown and the fake ones in with the Arm Band. l am amazed as to how the Maharaja wore this very expensive jewel in a stringy Arm Band.
     — Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/13/2008 06:02:00 AM 

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