Koh-i-Noor

Koh-i-Noor

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The Kōh-i Nūr which means "Mountain of Light" in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, also spelled Koh-i-noor, Koh-e Noor or Koh-i-Nur, is a 105 carat (21.6 g) diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

 (in its most recent cut) that was once the largest known diamond in the world. The Kōh-i Nūr originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 along with its double, the Darya-ye Noor
Darya-ye Noor
The Darya-ye Noor is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing an estimated . Its colour, pale pink, is one of the rarest to be found in diamonds...

 (the "Sea of Light"). It has belonged to various Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

, Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

, Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 and British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 rulers who fought bitterly over it at various points in history and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again. It was most recently seized by the East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. It was traditionally known as Madnayak or the King of Jewels, before being renamed Kohinoor in 18th century by Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali.

History


Koh-i-Noor originated in the Kollur region of the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Kakatiya Kingdom in early ancient years, one of the world's earliest diamond producing regions. This region was the only known source for diamonds until 1730 when diamonds were discovered in Brazil. The term "Golconda
Golconda
Golconda may be:Places:* Golkonda, ruined city and fortress in India* Golconda, Illinois, town in the United States* Golconda, Nevada, former town in the United StatesOther:* Golconda...

" diamond has come to define diamonds of the finest white colour, clarity and transparency. They are very rare and highly sought after.

The diamond was mined in the Kollur mines
Kollur Mine
The Kollur Mine in Guntur district of old Golkonda kingdom, India, was one of the most productive diamond mines in India and the first major diamond center. It is situated on the right bank of the river Krishna. It operated between the sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries...

 near the village Kollur in the present day Guntur
Guntur
Guntur , is a city and a municipal corporation in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, located to the north and west of the Bay of Bengal. It is approximately to the south of the national capital, New Delhi and south east of state capital, Hyderabad. Guntur is the fourth largest city in Andhra...

 district of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

. The diamond became the property of Kakatiya
Kakatiya
The Kakatiya dynasty was an Indian dynasty that ruled most parts of what is now Andhra Pradesh, India from 1083 CE to 1323 CE, with Orugallu , now Warangal , as its capital. Orugallu is also called 'Eka Sila Nagaram'...

 kings who installed it as a Goddess's eye in a temple.

The Khilji dynasty
Khilji dynasty
The Khilji Sultanate was a dynasty of Turko-Afghan Khalaj origin who ruled large parts of South Asia from 1290 - 1320. They were the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India...

 at Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 ended in 1320 AD. and Ghiyas ud din Tughluq Shah I, a Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 ruler ascended the throne. Tughlaq sent his commander Ulugh Khan in 1323 to defeat the Kakatiya
Kakatiya
The Kakatiya dynasty was an Indian dynasty that ruled most parts of what is now Andhra Pradesh, India from 1083 CE to 1323 CE, with Orugallu , now Warangal , as its capital. Orugallu is also called 'Eka Sila Nagaram'...

 king Prataparudra. Ulugh Khan’s raid was repulsed but he returned in a month with a larger and determined army. The unprepared army of Kakatiya was defeated.

The loot, plunder and destruction of Orugallu (present day Warangal
Warangal
Warangal is a city and a municipal corporation in Warangal district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Warangal is located northeast of the state capital of Hyderabad and is the administrative headquarters of Warangal District. This district is a combination of three cities: Warangal,...

), the capital of Kakatiya
Kakatiya
The Kakatiya dynasty was an Indian dynasty that ruled most parts of what is now Andhra Pradesh, India from 1083 CE to 1323 CE, with Orugallu , now Warangal , as its capital. Orugallu is also called 'Eka Sila Nagaram'...

 Kingdom, continued for months. Loads of gold, diamonds, pearls and ivory were carried away to Delhi on elephants, horses and camels. The Koh-i-noor diamond was part of the bounty.

From then onwards, the stone passed through the hands of successive rulers of the Delhi sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

, finally passing to Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

, the first Mughal emperor, in 1526.
The first confirmed historical mention of the Koh-i-noor by an identifiable name dates from 1526. Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 mentions in his memoirs, the Baburnama
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

, that the stone had belonged to an unnamed Rajah of Malwa in 1294. Babur held the stone's value to be such as to feed the whole world for two and a half days.

The Baburnama
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

 recounts how Rajah of Malwa was compelled to yield his prized possession to Ala ud din Khilji; it was then owned by a succession of dynasties that ruled the Delhi sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

, finally coming into the possession of Babur himself in 1526, following his victory over the last ruler of that kingdom. However, the Baburnama
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

 was written c.1526-30; Babur's source for this information is unknown, and he may have been recounting the hearsay of his day and mixed up the Emperor of Warangal
Warangal
Warangal is a city and a municipal corporation in Warangal district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Warangal is located northeast of the state capital of Hyderabad and is the administrative headquarters of Warangal District. This district is a combination of three cities: Warangal,...

 with the Rajah of Malwa. He did not at that time call the stone by its present name, but despite some debate about the identity of 'Babur's Diamond' it seems likely that it was the stone which later became known as Koh-i-noor.

Both Babur and Humayun
Humayun
Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early, but with Persian aid, he eventually regained an even larger one...

 mention very clearly in their memoirs the origins of 'Babur's Diamond'. This diamond was with the Kachhwaha
Kachwaha
Kachwaha are a Suryavanshi Kshatriya clan who ruled a number of kingdoms and princely states in India such as Alwar, Maihar, Talcher, while the largest kingdom was Jaipur which was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727...

 rulers of Gwalior and then inherited by the Tomara line. The last of Tomaras, Man Singh Tomar
Man Singh Tomar
Raja Man Singh Tomar was the most illustrious of the Tomar rulers of Gwalior who ascended the throne in 1486 AD.- History :Raja Man Singh Tomar was born to Raja Kalyanmall Tomar of Gwalior. He was a great ruler and ruled for over 30 years. In his years the Tomar were sometime at feud with and...

, negotiated peace with Sikandar Lodi
Sikandar Lodhi
Sikandar Lodi , born Nizam Khan, was the second ruler of the Afghan Lodi Dynasty, who reigned over Sultanate of Delhi from 1489 to 1517.-Biography:...

, Sultan of Delhi and became vassal of the Delhi sultanate.

On the defeat of Lodis and replacement by Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

s, his house was looted by the Mughals. However, Prince Humayun interceded and restored his property, even allowing him to leave Delhi and take refuge in Mewar
Mewar
Mewar is a region of south-central Rajasthan state in western India. It includes the present-day districts of Pratapgarh, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara and some of the part of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The region was for centuries a Rajput kingdom that later...

 at Chittaur
Chittorgarh
Chittorgarh is a city and a municipality in Rajasthan state of western India. It lies on the Berach River, a tributary of the Banas, and is the administrative headquarters of Chittorgharh District and a former capital of the Sisodia clans of Rajputs of Mewar...

. In return for Humayun's kindness, one of the diamonds in possession of Prince Vikaramaditya, most likely the Koh-i-Noor, was given to Humayun in gratitude.

Humayun had much bad luck throughout his life. Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri , birth name Farid Khan, also known as Sher Khan , was the founder of the short-lived Sur Empire in northern India, with its capital at Delhi, before its demise in the hands of the resurgent Mughal Empire...

, who defeated Humayun, died in the flames of a burst cannon. Humayun's son, Akbar
Akbar the Great
Akbar , also known as Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam or Akbar the Great , was the third Mughal Emperor. He was of Timurid descent; the son of Emperor Humayun, and the grandson of the Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Muhammad Babur, the ruler who founded the Mughal dynasty in India...

, never kept the diamond with himself and later only Shah Jahan took it out of his treasury. Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

 was overthrown by his own son, Aurangazeb
Aurangzeb
Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...

,


Stone of the emperors


The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

, famous for building the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal...

, had the stone placed into his ornate Peacock Throne
Peacock Throne
The Peacock Throne, called Takht-e Tâvus in Persian, is the name originally given to a Mughal throne of India, which was later adopted and used to describe the thrones of the Persian emperors from Nader Shah Afshari and erroneously to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi whose throne was a reconstruction of...

. His son, Aurangazeb, imprisoned his ailing father at nearby Agra Fort
Agra Fort
Agra Fort, is a monument situated at Agra, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal...

. Legend has it that he had the Koh-i-Noor positioned near a window so that Shah Jahan could see the Taj only by looking at its reflection in the stone. Aurangazeb later brought it to his capital Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 and placed it in his own personal Badshahi Mosque
Badshahi Mosque
The Badshahi Mosque or the 'King's Mosque' in Lahore, commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world...

. There it stayed until the invasion of Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 in 1739 and the sacking of Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

 and Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

. Along with the Peacock Throne, he also carried off the Koh-i-Noor to Persia in 1739. It was allegedly Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 who exclaimed Koh-i-Noor! when he finally managed to obtain the famous stone, and this is how the stone gained its present name. There is no reference to this name before 1739.

The valuation of the Koh-i-Noor is given in the legend that one of Nader Shah's consorts supposedly said, "If a strong man should take five stones, and throw one north, one south, one east, and one west, and the last straight up into the air, and the space between filled with gold and gems, that would equal the value of the Koh-i-noor."

After the assassination of Nader Shah in 1747, the stone came into the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. In 1830, Shah Shuja
Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns...

, the deposed ruler of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, managed to flee with the Kohinoor diamond. He then came to Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 where it was given to the Sikh Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

 (King) of Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

; in return for this Maharaja Ranjit Singh won back the Afghan throne for Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk
Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns...

.

Passage from India


Maharaja Ranjit Singh was crowned ruler of Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 and willed the Koh-i-noor to the Jagannath Temple
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 from his deathbed in 1839. But after his death the British administrators did not execute his will. On 29 March 1849, the British raised their flag on the citadel of Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 and the Punjab was formally proclaimed to be part of the British Empire in India. One of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore
Treaty of Lahore
The Treaty of Lahore of March 9, 1846, was a peace treaty marking the end of the First Anglo-Sikh War. The Treaty was concluded, for the British, by the Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge and two officers of the East India Company and, for the Sikhs, by the seven year old Maharaja Duleep Singh...

, the legal agreement formalising this occupation, was as follows:

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.


The Governor-General
Governor-General
A Governor-General, is a vice-regal person of a monarch in an independent realm or a major colonial circonscription. Depending on the political arrangement of the territory, a Governor General can be a governor of high rank, or a principal governor ranking above "ordinary" governors.- Current uses...

 in charge of the ratification for this treaty was Lord Dalhousie
James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie KT, PC was a Scottish statesman, and a colonial administrator in British India....

. More than anyone, Lord Dalhousie was responsible for the British acquiring the Koh-i-Noor, in which he continued to show great interest for the rest of his life. Dalhousie's work in India was primarily aimed at appropriation of Indian assets for the use of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. His acquisition of the diamond, amongst many other things, was criticized even by some of his contemporaries in Britain. Although some suggested that the diamond should have been presented as a gift to the Queen, it is clear that Dalhousie felt strongly that the stone was a spoil of war, and treated it accordingly. Writing to his friend Sir George Cooper
George Cooper
George Stephen Cooper , was an Australian cricket Test match umpire.He umpired two Test matches between 1948 and 1950...

in August of 1849, he stated:
The Court [of the East India Company] you say, are ruffled by my having caused the Maharajah to cede to the Queen the Koh-i-noor; while the 'Daily News' and my Lord Ellenborough [Governor-General of India, 1841-44] are indignant because I did not confiscate everything to her Majesty... [My] motive was simply this: that it was more for the honour of the Queen that the Koh-i-noor should be surrendered directly from the hand of the conquered prince into the hands of the sovereign who was his conqueror, than it should be presented to her as a gift—which is always a favour—by any joint-stock company among her subjects. So the Court ought to feel.


Dalhousie arranged that the diamond should be presented by Maharaja Ranjit Singh's young successor, Duleep Singh
Duleep Singh
This article is about Maharaja Dalip Singh. For other uses, see Dalip SinghMaharaja Dalip Singh, GCSI , commonly called Duleep Singh and later in life nicknamed the Black Prince of Perthshire, was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire...

, to Queen Victoria in 1850. Duleep Singh was the youngest son of Ranjit Singh and his fifth wife Maharani Jind Kaur
Jind Kaur
Maharani Jind Kaur, also popularly known as Rani Jindan. She was the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the mother of the last Sikh Emperor, Maharajah Duleep Singh. In 1845 she became Regent of Punjab for Duleep Singh. The Queen Mother of the last Sikh sovereign of the Punjab...

. Duleep, aged 13, travelled to the United Kingdom to present the jewel. The presentation of the Koh-i-Noor to Queen Victoria was the latest in the long history of transfers of the stone as a spoil of war. Duleep Singh had been placed in the guardianship of Dr Login. Login was a surgeon in the British Army who served in West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

, East India
East India
East India is a region of India consisting of the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Orissa. The states of Orissa and West Bengal share some cultural and linguistic characteristics with Bangladesh and with the state of Assam. Together with Bangladesh, West Bengal formed the...

 for some years and was a native of Southend, Stromness
Stromness
Stromness is the second-biggest town in Orkney, Scotland. It is in the south-west of Mainland Orkney. It is also a parish, with the town of Stromness as its capital.-Etymology:...

, Orkney Islands
Orkney Islands
Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands , is an archipelago in northern Scotland, situated north of the coast of Caithness...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. His family had run Login's Inn in Stromness since the early 19th century. Dr Login, his wife Lena and the young Duleep Singh travelled to England for the purpose of presenting the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Queen Victoria.

In due course the Governor-General received the Koh-i-Noor from Login, who had been appointed Governor of the Citadel, the Royal Fort
Royal Fort
The Royal Fort House is a historic house in Tyndalls Park, Bristol. The building currently houses the University of Bristol's Institute for Advanced Studies.-History:...

 at Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

, with the Royal Treasury
Toshakhana
Toshakhana is a word of Persian or Sanskrit origin that literally translates into "treasure-house".In India, a toshakhana is a place where princes store "gifts and emblems of honor that they received for their posterity .....

, which Login valued at almost £1,000,000 (£ as of ), excluding the Koh-i-Noor, on 6 April 1848, under a receipt dated 7 December 1849, in the presence of the members of the Board of Administration—the local resident H.M. Lawrence, C.C. Mansel, John Lawrence
John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence
John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence, GCB, GCSI, PC , known as Sir John Lawrence, Bt., between 1858 and 1869, was an Englishman who became a prominent British Imperial statesman who served as Viceroy of India from 1864 to 1869.-Early life:Lawrence came from Richmond, North Yorkshire...

, younger brother of H.M. Lawrence, and of Sir Henry Elliot, Secretary to the Government of India. The jewel was then sent to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in the care of John Lawrence, and C.C. Mansel for presentation to Queen Victoria, sailing from Bombay in HMS Medea under strict security arrangements.

The ship had a difficult voyage—an outbreak of cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 on board when the ship was in Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

 had the locals demanding its departure and they asked their governor to open fire and destroy the vessel if it did not respond. Shortly thereafter the vessel was hit by a severe gale that blew for some twelve hours. Legend in the Lawrence family has it that during the voyage, John Lawrence left the jewel in his waistcoat pocket when it was sent to be laundered, and it was returned promptly by the steward who found it.

On arrival in Britain the passengers and mail were unloaded in Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, but the Koh-i-noor stayed on board until the ship reached Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

, from where Lawrence and Mansel took the diamond to the East India House
East India House
East India House in Leadenhall Street in the City of London in England was the headquarters of the British East India Company. It was built on the foundations of the Elizabethan mansion Craven House, the London residence of Sir William Craven, Lord Mayor of London, to designs by the merchant and...

 in the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

 and passed it into the care of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the EIC
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. The handing over of the Koh-i-Noor diamond to The Queen on 3 July 1850 as part of the terms of the conclusion of the Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
The Second Anglo-Sikh War took place in 1848 and 1849, between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company. It resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province by the East India Company.-Background...

 also coincided with the 250th anniversary of the EIC. Dr Login received a knighthood in 1854 from Queen Victoria and was known as Sir John Spencer Login (he had added the 'r' to his middle name to change it from Spence to Spencer). The diamond is now set into the crown worn by the female consort to Monarch of the United Kingdom, and is currently in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth
Crown of Queen Elizabeth
The Crown of the Queen Mother is the platinum crown manufactured for, and worn by, Queen Elizabeth, the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the queen consort of King George VI of the United Kingdom at their coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1937...

 (the late Queen Mother).

The curse of the Koh-i-Noor


It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor carries with it a curse and only when in the possession of a woman will the curse not work. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. Queen Victoria is the only reigning monarch to have worn the gem. According to the legend, if the monarch is a male, the stone is passed to his spouse.

The possibility of a curse
Curse
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

 pertaining to ownership of the diamond dates back to a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 text relating to the first authenticated appearance of the diamond in 1306: "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 .

The Great Exhibition


The British public were given a chance to see the Koh-i-Noor when the Great Exhibition was staged in Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.The park is divided in two by the Serpentine...

 in 1851. The correspondent of The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

reported:
The Koh-i-Noor is at present decidedly the lion of the Exhibition. A mysterious interest appears to be attached to it, and now that so many precautions have been resorted to, and so much difficulty attends its inspection, the crowd is enormously enhanced, and the policemen at either end of the covered entrance have much trouble in restraining the struggling and impatient multitude. For some hours yesterday there were never less than a couple of hundred persons waiting their turn of admission, and yet, after all, the diamond does not satisfy. Either from the imperfect cutting or the difficulty of placing the lights advantageously, or the immovability of the stone itself, which should be made to revolve on its axis, few catch any of the brilliant rays it reflects when viewed at a particular angle.

The Crown Jewels




Disappointment in the appearance of the stone was not uncommon. In 1852, in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 under the personal supervision of Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, and the technical direction of James Tennant, the diamond was cut from 186 1/16 carats (37.21 g) to its current 105.602 carats (21.61 g) to increase its brilliance. Albert consulted widely, took enormous pains, and spent some £8,000 on the operation, which reduced the weight of the stone by a huge 42 percent—but nevertheless Albert was dissatisfied with the result. The stone then was mounted in a brooch which Queen Victoria often wore. It was kept at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 rather than with the rest of the crown jewels at the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

.

After Queen Victoria's death it was set in Queen Alexandra's brand-new diamond crown, with which she was crowned at the coronation of her husband, King Edward VII. Queen Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

 was the first Queen Consort to use the diamond in her crown, followed by Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

 and then Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II...

.

Present claims to ownership of the Koh-i-noor


India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 has claimed the diamond and have said that the Kohinoor was taken away illegally and it should be given back to India. When Elizabeth II made a state visit to India marking the 50th anniversary of Independence in 1997, many Indians in India and Britain including several Indian MPs demanded the return of the diamond.

Legends


The origin of the diamond is unclear. According to some sources, the Koh-i-Noor was originally found more than 5000 years ago, and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 writings under the name Syamantaka. According to some Hindu mythological
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

 accounts, the god Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 obtained the Koh-i-Noor from Jambavantha
Jambavantha
Jambavan also known as Jamvanta, Jambavantha, Jambavat, or Jambuvan the King of the Bears, is a sloth bear in Indian epic tradition , immortal to all but his father Vishnu. In the Valmiki Ramayana however, he is described as being a Vanara or monkey...

, whose daughter Jambavati
Jambavati
Jambavati is the only daughter of the king-bear Jambavan. Her story is told in the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana. She received the famous "Syamantaka Jewel" as a gift from her father and she married to Lord Krishna and occupied the third most prominent position of his eight principal queens...

 later married Krishna. Krishna was blamed for the theft of the diamond from Satrajith's dead brother, killed by a lion (itself having been killed by Jambavantha). Satrajith accused Krishna of having killed his brother. Krishna fought a fierce battle with Jāmbavān to restore his reputation and gave the jewel back to Satrajith. In shame, Satrajith offered Krishna his daughter, as well as the Koh-i-Noor. Krishna accepted his daughter Satyabhāmā, but refused to take the Syamantaka.

See also

  • Darya-ye Noor Diamond
    Darya-ye Noor
    The Darya-ye Noor is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing an estimated . Its colour, pale pink, is one of the rarest to be found in diamonds...

     (Sea of Light)
  • Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond
    Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond
    The Noor-ol-Ain is the principal diamond mounted in a tiara of the same name made for Iranian Empress Farah Pahlavi's wedding to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1958...

     (The light of the eye)
  • List of famous diamonds

Sources


External links

  • Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco "A Story of the Koh-i-Nûr" The Folk-Lore Journal. Volume 4, pp. 252–4.
  • The World of Famous Diamonds
  • History of the Kohinoor
  • The Koh-i-noor Diamond on h2g2
    H2g2
    h2g2 is a British-based collaborative online encyclopedia project engaged in the construction of, in its own words, "an unconventional guide to life, the universe, and everything", in the spirit of the fictional publication The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from the science fiction comedy series...