Description of the Kohinoor Diamond
The Kohinoor Diamond is one of the most famous diamonds in the world. The Kohinoor diamond was first mentioned in 1306 when it was taken from a Rajah of Malwa, whose family had held the diamond for centuries. It was described as weighing 186 carats and was an oval cut white diamond – the shape and size of a small hen’s egg. The Kohinoor diamond belonged to various Indian and Persian rulers but it became part of the Crown Jewels of England at the time that Queen Victoria was proclaimed empress of India. The Kohinoor was re-cut at this time and now weighs 105.60 carats and is kept in the Tower of London .
The curse of the Kohinoor Diamond
The Curse of Kohinoor Diamond dates back to a Hindu text from the time of the first authenticated appearance of the diamond in 1306. The Curse of the Kohinoor Diamond reads:
“He who owns this diamond will own the world,
but will also know all its misfortunes.
Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.”
The history and lives of the rulers who owned the Koh-i-Noor diamond were filled with violence, murders, mutilations, torture and treachery. Whether or not people believe in the Curse of the Kohinoor Diamond, the history of the stone is undeniable – and the threat of the Koh-i-Noor curse is enough to make people cautious. The British Royal family were obviously aware of the Curse of the Kohinoor and from the reign of Queen Victoria, when the Kohinoor diamond came into their possession, it has always gone to the wife of the male heir to the British throne. The History Timeline details the story of the Kohinoor diamond.
History of the Dohinoor Diamond
Myths and legends surround the stone. It was of incredible value and described by one of its owners, the Emperor Babur, the Great Mogul, as “Worth the value of one day’s food for all the people in the world”. The men who fought for it, and the Kingdoms and great Empires that were won and lost, produced many stories of ill-luck that plagued the owners and became part of the history of the Kohinoor diamond.
The History Timeline of the Kohinoor Diamond
The following timeline & history of the Kohinoor details important historical events and dates:
1200 – 1300’s
There were many dynasties who owned the Kohinoor diamond including the Slave dynasty (1206-90), the Khilji dynasty (1290-1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414-51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451-1526)These were all brief reigns ending with war and violence
In 1306 the Rajah of Malwa was forced to give the diamond to the rulers of the Kakatiya Empire
Soon after, in 1323, the Kakatiya Empire fell after a rule stretching from 1083 to 1323. The diamond was taken by Muhammad bin Tughluq who became the Sultan of Delhi from 1325 to 1351
1323 – 1526
The diamond came into the possession of the Delhi Sultanate which consisted of many Muslim dynasties that ruled in India to 1526. During the Delhi Sultanate Muslim armies consisting of Mongol, Turkic, Persian, and Afghan warriors invaded India
In 1526 the Kohinoor Diamond passed to the Mughal Empire when the Timurid Prince Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last of the Delhi Sultans, at the First Battle of Panipat. Mughal is the Persian word for Mongol
Babur mentions in his memoirs, the Baburnama, that the diamond had belonged to an un-named Rajah of Malwa
The Mughal Empire ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for two hundred years and the Kohinoor passed from one Mughal Emperor to the next. Violence and bloodshed followed these years often marked by the sons of the Emperors rebelling and overtaking their fathers
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592 – 1666), who was famous for building the Taj Mahal, had the Kohinoor Diamond placed into his ornate Peacock Throne
The Koh-i-Noor changed ownership several more times until the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan took the throne. In 1639 a struggle for the Empire started between his four sons – Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh when brother killed brother. Shah Shuja executed his brother Dara Shikoh and in then 1658 Aurangzeb defeated Shuja and Shuja who was tortured to death together with all his family
In 1665 Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605 – 1689), French traveller and pioneer of jewelry and diamond trade with India, recorded his experiences in which he describes a great Mughal diamond said to be the biggest in the world. It was called the “Great Mogul” by Tavernier
In 1739 the Persian King Nadir Shah invaded the Mughal Empire defeating their Emperor and stole the great Koh-i-Noor diamond (Nadir Shah is credited with giving the diamond the name it is known by today). The Koh-i-Noor Diamond was taken to Persia
In 1747 the empire of Nadir Shah quickly disintegrated after he was assassinated – the Curse of the Kohinoor strikes again? After Nadir Shah’s assassination, the diamond passed to his successors, each were dethroned and ritually blinded (Blinding was used to render an enemy powerless and make him a burden on his community.)
1800 – Ranjit Singh took the Empire and possession of the Kohinoor diamond. Rajah Ranjit Singh died in 1839 and his successors lacked his bravery and vision
The Sikh kingdom became weak and the British conquered India which became part of the British Empire and the British Raj or rule gained control of India from 1858 – 1947
The British Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie, was responsible for the British acquiring the Koh-i-Noor
1851 – Dalhousie arranged that the Kohinoor diamond should be presented by Ranjit Singh’s successor, Duleep Singh, to Queen Victoria, the Empress of India
1851 – The Great Exhibition was staged in Hyde Park in London when the Koh-i-Noor was put on view to the British public
In 1852 Prince Albert ordered that the Koh-i-Noor diamond to be re-cut from 186 carats to its current 105 carats thus increasing its brilliance. The Koh-i-Noor diamond was mounted in a tiara with more than two thousand other diamonds
The Koh-i-Noor diamond was then used as the centre piece of the crowns of the Queen consorts to the British Kings. The Queen Consorts Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary wore the crowns
In 1936, the stone was set into the crown of the wife of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother), wife of King George VI
The British Royal family were obviously aware of the Curse of the Kohinoor – “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.” And from the reign of Queen Victoria the Kohinoor diamond has always gone to the wife of the male heir to the British throne
The above history timeline of the Kohinoor diamond details important historical events and dates and the legends and myths that surround the curse of the Koh-i-Noor.
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 guards manship 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 Â£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 Elizabeththe 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 inIraq 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.