THE HISTORY BEHIND IT
The once largest known diamond in the world was originally found nearly 5,000 years ago; evidence suggests that it originated in Golconda Kingdom, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, a state in India. At that time it was said to have weighed 793 carats, but was reduced to 186 carats by a jeweler named Borgio. At 793 carats, it must have been a truly immense diamond.
Persian king Nadir Shah gave the stone its name "Kohinoor" meaning "Mountain of Light". He had seized it from the Moghuls when he overran Delhi in 1739. Before being given this name, the diamond was known as Syamantac Mani, meaning "Prince among Diamonds". The Kohinoor is truly that.
This beautiful diamond not only has history attached to it, it is also one of the most controversial diamonds in history and there is a belief that there is a curse attached to it.
This highly controversial diamond has fascinated mankind for ages, including myself and with this though in mind, I asked myself "Why is this diamond known as a curse? Is it really a curse or just a co-incidence? Why is almost every Asian country claiming ownership of the diamond? "
"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"
This is the curse of the Kohinoor. It is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears this diamond as it has a long and bloody history. The belief is that the curse will not work as long as it is in the possession of a woman. All the men who have owned it have either lost their throne or were victims of misfortunes. Indeed from the reign of Queen Victoria, the diamond has always gone to the consort of the male heir to the British throne. Extensive research and facts show that whoever has possessed it has had their fair share of misery and misfortune.
Whether people believe in its curse or not, the history of the Kohinoor is enough to make people cautious.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE KOHINOOR CURSE
The history and lives of the rulers who owned the Kohinoor diamond were filled with violence, murders, mutilations, torture and treachery. The men who fought for it, the kingdoms and empires that were won and lost, have given birth to many stories of ill-luck that plagued the owners and became part of the history of Kohinoor.
Here I list the reasoning and facts that lead to the theory that the Kohinoor is cursed.
1. 1083 -1323 AD – The Yadavs of the Kakathiyas dynasty, a Telugu empire, originally owned this diamond and had it installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye.
2. 1294 – Malik Kafur led the Khilji's army through the Mountain range, attacking the capital city of the Yadava kingdom of Devagiri. The army of Turkic Khilji dynasty began raiding kingdoms of southern India for loot. Malik Kafur, an eunuch and Alauddin Khilji's military general, made a successful raid on Warangal. He looted the treasury of Kakatiya kingdom and Hindu temples. The ruler was Pradapapudra. The booty, according to Al-Birani, historian, included 214 tons of gold and countless gemstones including the Kohinoor diamond. The diamond remained with the Khilji dynasty, and later passed on to the succeeding dynasties of the Delhi Sultanate. According to Babur Nama, (first version of the written version of the diamond's custody by Emperor Babur) Allauddin Khilji was the first ruler to seize Kohinoor from the Hindu king.
3. 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.
4. 1325 to 1351 – The diamond was taken by Muhammad bin Tughluq who was the Sultan of Delhi for that period.
5. 1323 – 1526 – It remained in the possession of the Delhi Sultanate which consisted of many Muslim dynasties that ruled in India. During the Delhi Sultanate Muslim armies consisting of Mongol, Turkic, Persian, and Afghan warriors invaded India.
6. 1526 – The Kohinoor 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.
7. 1592 – 1666 – The Mughal Empire ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for two hundred years and the Kohinoor passed from one 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, who was famous for building the Taj Mahal, had the Kohinoor Diamond placed into his ornate Peacock Throne, the Mughal throne of India. He had four sons, Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh. Greed for the throne led them to quarrel and kill each other. Shah Shuja executed his brother Dara Shikoh and in 1658 Aurangzeb defeated Shuja. Shuja was tortured to death together with his whole family. Shah Jahan was imprisoned by Aurangzeb and he could only ever see the Taj Mahal again through the reflection of the diamond. Aurangzeb had the diamond cut to 186 carats and brought it to the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore.
8. 1739 – It was robbed from the Bashahi Mosque by Persian King Nadir Shah who took it to Persia along with the Peacock Crown.
9. 1747 – Nadir Shah's empire disintegrated when he was assassinated. Since then, all his successors were dethroned and ritually blinded, a tradition that was used to render the enemy powerless thus making him a burden to society.
10. 1813 – Shuja Shah Durrani, the deposed ruler of Afghanistan took it to Punjab and made a deal with Rajah Ranjit Singh to surrender the Kohinoor in exchange for help in winning back the Afghan throne.
11. 1839 – Rajah Ranjit Singh had possession of the empire and the Kohinoor. After his death his successors did not have the courage and vision to hold the empire together and the Sikh kingdom became weak and was taken over by the British alongside the rest of India; thus began the British Raj / Rule in India.
12. 1849 – The British Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie, got the credit for acquiring the diamond. He arranged that the Kohinoor diamond should be presented by Ranjit Singh's successor, Duleep Singh, to Queen Victoria, the Empress of India. On 29th March, 1849, 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 Kohinoor 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 Kohinoor out of the Toshakhana (the jewel house), and also be a guardian to the young Duleep Singh. The Kohinoor set sail for England on 6th April, 1850, and reached London on 2nd July, 1850. The Great Exhibition was staged in Hyde Park in London where it was put on view to the British public.
13. 1852 – Prince Albert ordered that the Kohinoor be re-cut from 186 carats to its current 108.93 carats thus increasing its brilliance. He carefully searched for a diamond cutter with a very good reputation and headed to Netherlands where he gave the mission to cut the diamond to a Mr. Cantor who began the difficult task of cutting it. It took Mr. Cantor 38 days to work on the diamond. It was then mounted in a tiara with more than two thousand other diamonds. The Kohinoor diamond was then used as the center piece of the crowns of the Queen consorts to the British Kings. The Queen Consorts Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary wore the crowns.
14. 1936 – The Diamond was set in the crown of Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI. Queen Elizabeth is who we have known as the Queen Mother.
15. 1939 – 1945 – In the Second World War, Russia and America took the credits, leaving Britain with nothing.
16. 1947 – After the arrival of the diamond in England, the British began to lose the empire one after another. The first signs of the collapsing British Empire was their withdrawal from India.
17. 1950 – The Suez Canal crisis further weakened the British Empire. Their political differences with Ireland and countries like Zimbabwe became evident to the world.
18 .. 1956 – The Suez canal crisis blatantly exposed Britain's military and financial weakness.
19. 1957 – Ghana and Malaya became independent
20. 1962 – Uganda became an independent country; free from British rule
21. 1963 – Kenya attained independence from the British
22. 1965 – The white settlers of Zimbabwe created a lot of hassle that it became an unrecognized independent country under Ian Smith.
23. 1982 – Britain had a real struggle holding onto the Falkland Islands
24. 1997 – Britain had to surrender Hong Kong to China. Princess Diana also died in a tragic car accident in the same year, plunging the world in deep mourning.
25. 2003 – Britain faced the wrath of the Iraqi people
The history of this jewel speaks for itself, the British Empire which had once expanded throughout the world, is now restricted to a fixed territory.
"All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them!"
They say it takes between 10 and 25 years to experience the effects of the curse. It gives luck only to those who know its procedure on how to keep it purified. Otherwise, it forces the possessor to dispossess of his or her territory and to disturb home peace. It is equally unlucky 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 Kohinoor was seen publicly on the Queen Mother's crown which was placed on her coffin for her lying-in-state and funeral when she passed away in 2002.
The magnificence of the diamond and its value symbolized the power of an Empire. It was said that "He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes." Fact or not, I leave the judgment to you. All I can say that Britain may have lost a large part of their vast empire and in spite of this it is the third most powerful country in the world. The British pound is also the third strongest currency as at the beginning of this financial year. So is the Kohinoor a curse or a blessing?