Kohinoor Diamond

What is Kohinoor

Kohinoor is a most famous and oldest diamond all over the world. It has a big and great history behind. This diamond is named in Persian as Kohinoor which means “Mountain of Light”. This precious diamond is found mentioned first time in 1306 during the time king of Malwa. This diamond was held for centuries by the family of king. It is an oval cut white diamond (having shape and size of a small hen egg) weighing 186 carats. It has remained only 105.6 carats after re-cuts which is kept in the Tower of London.

Historically it is belonged to the various Indian and Persian rulers, however; currently the part of Crown Jewels, England from the time when Queen Victoria was proclaimed as the empress of India. According to the legends, it is said that, it is around 5000 years old and called as the Syamantaka jewel in Sanskrit. According to another clue about its existence, it exists dates back to 1526 from the time of Indian conqueror, Babur. According to him, the diamond was owned in 13th century by the king of Gwalior.

Kohinoor Diamond

Kohinoor Diamond

Origin of Kohinoor in India (where was Kohinoor Diamond found)

The Kohinoor was originated in Golconda, India. It was found during coal mining at the Kollur mine (specifically Rayalaseema diamond mine means the ‘Land of Stones’) during the time of Kakatiya dynasty. From that time, it was started passing from one to the next ruling dynasty. Originally, it was named as ‘Samantik Mani’ means the prince and leader of all diamonds). It was named in Persian as "Mountain of Light" in 1739 when the Persian King Nadir Shah (the King of Persia) invaded India. At that time, it was valued as symbolizing the power of an Empire. It is well said about it that, "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". According to the stories of curse of Kohinoor, it is said that, possession of it led to the murder, mutilation, torture and treachery.

History of Kohinoor Diamond

Historically, it is found mentioned in Hindu text from its first authenticated appearance in 1306. The history of Kohinoor and kings (who owned it) coming together as parallel lines of railway track which is full of murders, mutilations, torture, violence, treachery, etc. We cannot deny the curse-full history of this stone which is enough to make us cautious. The British Royal families took it into their possession in spite of they were well aware of its curse from the reign of Queen Victoria.

There are variety of myths and legends that surround the history of this stone. Its incredible value was described by one of its owners (the Emperor Babur - the Great Mogul) as Kohinoor, "Worth the value of one day's food for all the people in the world". It tells the ill-luck stories of rulers who fought for it and great kings who owned it. According to the history, the history of Kohinoor is as follows:

  • Kohinoor diamond was owned by many dynasties between 1200’s to 1300's such as it was owned by Slave dynasty from 1206 to 1290, Khilji dynasty from 1290 to 1320, Tughlaq dynasty from 1320 to 1413, Sayyid dynasty from 1414 to 1451, and Lodi dynasty from 1451 to 1526 including further war and violence.
  • In 1306, it was forcefully owned by the rulers of Kakatiya Empire from the Rajah of Malwa.
  • It was then owned by the Muhammad bin Tughluq in 1323 who later became the Sultan of Delhi from 1325 to 1351.
  • It was continued to be under the possession of Delhi Sultanate (consisted of many Muslim dynasties like Mongol, Persian, Turkic, Afghan warriors, etc) from 1323 to 1526 who ruled in India.
  • Again, it was passed to the Mughal Empire in 1526 when the last Delhi Sultan (Ibrahim Lodi) was defeated by the Timurid Prince Babur in the First Battle of Panipat. India was ruled by the Mughal Empire for two hundred years, in this way diamond was passed from one Mughal Emperor to the next with years of violence and bloodshed history.
  • During the time of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (from 1592 to 1666), diamond was placed in his ornate Peacock Throne.
  • In 1639, it was owned by the Aurangzeb (one of the four sons of Shah Jahan) after defeating his all three brothers. It was named as the "Great Mogul" by Tavernier (a trader) in 1665 because of being biggest diamond in the world.
  • In 1739, it was owned by the Persian King Nadir Shah when he invaded the Mughal Empire and stole the great diamond. In this way, diamond was taken to the Persia.
  • Because of the curse of Kohinoor, quickly in 1747 the empire of Nadir Shah quickly disintegrated.
  • From 1800 to 1839, it was under the possession of King Ranjit Singh and then his successors.
  • After some years, British conquered India and ruled over it from 1858 to 1947. The diamond was acquired to the British rule by the British Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie. In 1851, the successor of King Ranjit Singh (Duleep Singh) was forced to present the Kohinoor to the Queen Victoria, the Empress of India. Once, it was staged to the British public during Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London.
  • It was re-cut (from 186 carats to 105 carats) in 1852 on the order of Prince Albert in order to increase its brilliance. It became the centre piece of crowns of Queen Consorts (Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, etc) of British Kings for many years.
  • Later, it was stoned into the crown of Queen Elizabeth (the wife of King George VI) in 1936.

It’s Journey to the England:

Its journey to the England tells us about the history that how the Kohinoor reached to the England from India. Lastly, it was owned by the son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Maharaja Duleep Singh). It was really bad time when India was conquered by British rule. According to the one of the terms of Treaty of Lahore by the British government, Kohinoor was surrendered by the King of Lahore to the Queen of England. It was the planned strategy of British rule to take diamond out of the Toshakhana (the jewel house).

There is an interesting history behind the journey of Kohinoor as it was sailed from Bombay in H.M.S. Medea to the London in an iron box which was again kept in a dispatch box. After months of journey it reached to the destination and handed over by the two officers to the East India House and then to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the company. It left the Indian shores on 6th of April in 1850 and reached to London on 2nd of July in 1850 where it was handed over to the Board of Directors of East India Company.

The Kohinoor in Queen’s Crown

When the Kohinoor was presented to the Queen of London by the King of India, Prince Albert ordered to re-cut the Koh-i-noor as it was badly cut (rose-not-brilliant-cut). In order to re-cut the diamond some experienced diamond cutters with a small steam engine travelled to London. After re-cutting the diamond (took around 38 days and cost $40,000) when it was confirmed that it has lost its yellow color and become much whiter, it was embedded in lead to enhance the beauty of crown which already contained more than two thousand diamonds. Finally, the diamond became an oval brilliant diamond weighing lower than earlier. The later cut was stellar brilliant-cut having regular 33 facets which lost its weight around 43 percent. Later in 1911, it was embedded in a new crown that wore by the Queen Mary for the coronation. Again in 1937, it was transferred to another crown made for Queen Elizabeth.

Ownership Dispute for the Kohinoor

It is believed by the government of India that the stone is the rightful property of India. The first request was made to return the diamond just after the independence in 1947 and a second request in 1953 during the year of coronation of Queen Elizabeth II however both the claims were refuted by the British government. When Pakistan claimed about its ownership in 1976 saying that "a convincing demonstration of the spirit that moved Britain voluntarily to shed its imperial encumbrances and lead the process of decolonisation". However, the Prime Minister of Pakistan (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) got an answer by the Prime Minister of United Kingdom (James Callaghan) as, “I need not remind you of the various hands through which the stone has passed over the past two centuries, nor that explicit provision for its transfer to the British crown was made in the peace treaty with the Maharajah of Lahore in 1849. I could not advise Her Majesty that it should be surrendered”.

Later in 2000, several Indian Parliament members requested the return of diamond back to the India claiming its outing was illegal however it is continued denial from the British officials. In between, Afghanistan also claimed that they are the owner of diamond as earlier it was taken from Afghanistan to India and then from India to Britain.

During visit to India in 2010, the PM of United Kingdom (David Cameron) said that, "If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty. I am afraid to say, it is going to have to stay put" and during a subsequent visit in 2013, he again said that, "They're not having that back".

Who is the Owner of Kohinoor Diamond

We spent the 20th century as the war of words for the rightful ownership of Kohinoor. There are so many claims regarding the return and ownership of diamond from 1947 till date by the government of India, Congress Ministry of Orissa, Ranjit Singh’s treasurer, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Kohinoor has been in possession in many countries as in Delhi for 213 years, in Kandahar and Kabul (Afghan) for 66 years and in British for 127 years. According to the history, it is difficult to decide the rightful ownership of diamond. However, from the gemological aspect and according to the paper report, Indian claims are more valid as Kohinoor was mined in India. When it was mined at Kollur Mine (currently a state of Andhra Pradesh, India), it was a biggest diamond all over the world.

It was illegally taken away from India and should be given back to India. It was also demanded back by India when Queen Elizabeth II was at visit to India during its 50th anniversary of independence in 1997.

Return of Kohinoor Diamond Back to India

Indian Culture Ministry has stated on 19th of April in 2016 that it would be made "all possible efforts" to arrange the return of diamond back to the country. Indian government has admitted that the gem was a gift to the queen however requested to return the property. It is said that, “It was given voluntarily by Ranjit Singh to the British as compensation for help in the Sikh wars. The Koh-i-Noor is not a stolen object”.

The British MP of Indian-origin (Keith Vaz) told that, the world-famous Kohinoor diamond should be returned to India, during the UK visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi in November 2015. It is an Indian origin property which should be returned with honor to the country.

Kohinoor - a Curse

According to the history, it is clear that it has passed hand to hand for many years. When it passed to the London without knowledge of using it properly, it changed its nature more of a curse than blessings. It is a shining stone shines like the Sun however gets restricted to the fixed territory. It belongs to the Saturn (a slow moving planet), thus affects its possessor cautiously rather than quickly. It blesses those who know the procedure to keep it purified however badly affects those who don’t know. It takes around 10 to 25 years to show its effects. Its wrong use forces its possessor to lose their territory or disturb home peace. It is less lucky to the queens also as they have lost their many valuables things and lands to reduce the evil effects of diamond or face less tragedy.

If we put back some light on the history we see that, it was owned by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1813 and after 25 years it started showing its bad effects and he had to suffer paralyzed attack in 1839, even he died that year. Kohinoor affects female possessors by losing their territory, reputation or drawing unhappiness to the home, breaking home or completely end the monarchy. In order to retain its possession, Great Britain had to struggle a lot. It needs to maintain the purity of diamond in order to be blessed and prevented from its curse.