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The Koh-I-Noor, World Strangest Diamond

It has been said that whoever owned the Koh-I-Noor ruled the world, a suitable statement for this, the most famous of all diamonds and a veritable household name in many parts of the world. The Koh-I-Noor, which means "Mountain of Light" in Persian, is a 105 carat (21.6 g) diamond (in its most recent cut) that was once the largest known diamond in the world.

Originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India along with its double, the Darya-ye Noor (the "Sea of Light"). It has belonged to various Hindu, Persian, Rajput, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh and British rulers who fought bitterly over it at various points in history and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again.

The possibility of a curse pertaining to ownership of the diamond dates back to a Hindu 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 impunity."

The earliest authentic reference to a diamond which may have been the Koh-I-Noor is found in the Baburnama, the memoirs of Babur, the first Mogul ruler of India. Born in 1483, Babur (meaning 'lion' -- the name was not given to him at birth but appears to be a nickname, deriving from an Arabic or Persian word meaning 'lion' or 'tiger') was descended in the fifth generation from Tamerlane on the male side and in th fifteenth degree from Genghis Khan on the female side. With the blood in his veins of two of the greatest conquerors Asia has ever seen, it is not all that surprising that Babur himself should have become a great conqueror in his own right.

Legend has suggested that the stone may date from before the time of Christ; theory indicates the possibility of its appearance in the Kollur region of Guntur district in present day Andhra Pradesh, one of the world's earliest diamond producing regions in the early years of the1200s, during the Kakatiya rule; history proves its existence for the past two and a half centuries. The first writer has stated:
"Reguarding its traditional history, which extends 5000 years further back, nothing need be said here; though it has afforded sundry imaginative writers with a subject for highly characteristic paragraphs we have no record of its having been at any time a cut stone."
It was traditionally known as Shyamantha-mani and later Madnayak or the King of Jewels, before being renamed Kohinoor in 18th century by Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali.
The Koh-i-noor remained with the Mogul emperors until 1739, when Nadir Shah of Persia, the conqueror of India, got hold of it after laying siege to Delhi. According to legend it was a member of the harem of the Mogul Emperor Mohammed Shah who told Nadir Shah that the jewel was kept hidden in the Emperor's turban. So, at a victory celebration, Nadir used a cunning ploy. He suggested that he and the Emperor partake in a well-known Oriental custom whereby the two leaders would exchange turbans. This would symbolise their close ties and eternal friendship. For the Mogul to refuse would have been a great insult to the conqueror. Later that night, when Nadir Shah unfolded his host's turban he duly found the gem, and cried out 'Koh-i-noor', which means 'mountain of light'. Nadir Shah then brought the jewel back with him to Persia.

After the death of Nadir Shah the Koh-i-noor came through devious means into the possession of Ahmed Shah, the Lord of the Royal Treasury and an Afghan chief. Then Ahmed Shah, after a series of long and fierce battles, established himself in Kabul as King of Afghanistan, and held on to 'the great diamond' as a symbol of his authority. Through various subsequent upheavals and rebellions the diamond came back into the possession of the Indian princes, until the annexation of the Punjab secured it for the British.

The British were rather disappointed at the lack of 'fire' in the diamond, and so they decided it should be re-cut to make it more brilliant. This further reduced it from 186 carats to its present size of just under 109 carats. Over centuries of murder and mayhem, brutality and torture - not to mention deceit and duplicity - the stone had long carried with it a curse that misfortune would always befall its owner, though any woman wearing it would remain unharmed. There was some talk of whether Queen Victoria would return the stone because of the curse. Defiant as always, however, she was adamant it should instead be re-cut and set in a tiara along with over 2,000 other royal diamonds.
In 1911 a new crown was made for the coronation of Queen Mary, with the Koh-I-Noor at its centre. Then in 1937 the stone was transferred to another new crown, this time for the coronation of Elizabeth (later to become the Queen Mother) as Queen Consort and Empress of India.

India has claimed the diamond and have said that the Koh-I-Noor 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.
The Sikhs, however, are not the only people who want the diamond. In November 2000 the Taleban regime demanded the return of the Koh-I-Noor diamond to Afghanistan, saying that the British should hand the gem back to them as soon as possible. They have claimed that it is the property of Afghanistan, and that history shows that it went to India from Afghanistan and therefore the Afghans have a stronger claim than the Indians.

As it is impossible to determine the true origin of the diamond, Britain has so far refused the possibility to Koh-I-Noor leave British soil claiming that this is now his home.

If you like this post just click here Posted By crkota with 1 comment


Article refers to the first authenticated reference to the diamond being from 1306, then says the first reference is in the memoirs of somebody born in 1483. Make up your mind.

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