Glass replica of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond in its original form. From the Reich der Kristalle museum in Munich.
|Weight||186 1/16 carats (37.21 g)|
|Country of origin||India|
|Mine of origin||Kollur Mine, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh|
|Current owner||The British Crown (part of the British Crown Jewels)|
The Koh-i-Noor, (Persian: کوہ نور pronounced [koh iː nuːɾ], "Mountain of Light"; also written Kuh-e Nur, Koh-i-Nur), is a 105.6 metric carats diamond, weighing 21.6 grammes in the most recent cut state, and once the largest known diamond. The Koh-i Nur is believed to have originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India together with its double, the Darya-ye Noor (the "Sea of Light"). The diamond has belonged to various Hindu, Rajput, Mughal, Iranian, Afghan, Sikh and British rulers who fought bitterly over it and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again.
In 1850, the diamond was confiscated from Duleep Singh by the British East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. The diamond was traditionally known as Syamantaka-mani and later Madnayak or the "King of Jewels", before being renamed "Kuh-e nur" in the 18th century by Nādir Shāh after his conquest of India. The diamond is currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and is on display at the Tower of London.
Legend has it that the diamond originally belonged to the Dhruvin Chavdas. The diamond probably came from the Kollur mines, near the village in the present-day Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The first confirmed historical mention of the Koh-i Noor by an identifiable name dates from 1526. Babur mentions in his memoirs, the babur-Nāmah, that the stone had belonged to an unnamed Raja of Gwalior, who was compelled to yield his prized possession in 1294 to 'Alā'uddīn Khiljī. It was then owned by the Tughlaq dynasty and Lodī dynasty, and finally came into the possession of Bābur himself in 1526. He called the stone 'the Diamond of Bābur' at the time, although it had been called by other names before he seized it from Ibrāhīm Lodī.
When the Tughlaq dynasty replaced the Khiljī dynasty in 1320 AD, Ghiyāth al-Dīn Tughluq sent his commander Ulūgh Khān in 1323 to defeat the Kākatīya king Prātaparuḑra. Ulūgh Khān's raid was repulsed but he returned in a month with a larger and determined army. The unprepared army of Kakātīya was defeated this time and the diamond was seized by the champion army of the Delhi Sultanate.
Both Bābur and Humāyūn mention in their memoirs the origins of 'the Diamond of Bābur'. This diamond was with the Kachhwaha rulers of Gwalior and then inherited by the Tomara line. The last of Tomaras, Man Singh Tomar, negotiated peace with Sikandar Lodī, Sultan of Delhi and became a vassal of the Delhi Sultanate.
Humāyūn had much bad luck throughout his life. Sher Shāh Sūrī, who defeated Humāyūn, died in the flames of a burst cannon. Humāyūn's son, Akbar, never kept the diamond with him and later only Shāh Jahān took it out of his treasury. Akbar's grandson, Shāh Jahān was overthrown by his own son, Aurangzēb.
Shah Jahan, famous for building the Taj Mahal in Agra, had the stone placed into his ornate Peacock Throne. His son, Aurangazēb, imprisoned his ailing father at nearby Agra Fort. Legend has it that he had the Koh-i-Noor positioned near a window so that Shāh Jahān could see the Tāj Mahal only by looking at its reflection in the stone. Aurangazēb later brought it to his capital Lahore and placed it in his own personal Bādshāhī Mosque. There it stayed until the invasion of Nādir Shāh of Iran in 1739 and the sacking of Agra and Delhi. Along with the Peacock Throne, he also carried off the Koh-i Noor to Persia in 1739. It was allegedly Nādir Shāh 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 Nādir Shāh'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 Nādir Shāh in 1747, the stone came into the hands of his general, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī of Afghanistan. In 1830, Shujāh Shāh Durrānī, the deposed ruler of Afghanistan, managed to flee with the diamond. He went to Lahore where Ranjīt Singh forced him to surrender it; in return for this, Ranjīt Singh won back the Afghan throne for Shah Shujā'.
Taken from India to England 
Ranjīt Singh was crowned ruler of the Punjab region. However, after his death in 1839 the British administrators did not execute his will. On 29 March 1849, the British raised their flag on the citadel of Lahore and the Punjab was formally proclaimed part of the British Empire in India. One of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore, 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 in charge of the ratification for this treaty was Lord Dalhousie. He more than anyone, 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. 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[disambiguation needed] in August 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 be presented by Maharaja Ranjīt Singh's young successor, Dulīp Singh, to Queen Victoria in 1850. Dulīp Singh was the youngest son of Ranjīt Singh and his fifth wife Maharani Jind Kaur. Dulīp, aged 13, travelled to the United Kingdom to present the jewel. The presentation of the Koh-i Noor and the Timur ruby to Queen Victoria was the latest in the long history of transfers of the stones as a spoil of war. Dulīp Singh had been placed in the guardianship of Dr Login, a surgeon in the British Army serving in West Bengal, East India. Dr Login, his wife Lena and the young Dulīp Singh travelled to England for the ceremony.
In due course the Governor-General received the Koh-i-Noor from Login, who had been appointed Governor of the Citadel, the Royal Fort at Lahore, with the Royal Treasury, which Login valued at almost £1,000,000 (£81.6 million as of 2013), 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, younger brother of H.M. Lawrence, and of Sir Henry Elliot, Secretary to the Government of India. The jewel was then sent to England in the care of John Lawrence, and C.C. Mansel for presentation to Queen Victoria, sailing from Bombay in the paddle sloop HMS Medea under strict security arrangements.
The ship had a difficult voyage — an outbreak of cholera on board when the ship was in Mauritius 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, but the Koh-i Noor stayed on board until the ship reached Portsmouth, from where Lawrence and Mansel took the diamond to East India House in the City of London and passed it into the care of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the British East India Company. 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 also coincided with the 250th anniversary of the Company. 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 the Monarch of the United Kingdom, and is currently in the
The curse of the Koh-i-Noor 
It is believed[by whom?] that the Koh-i Noor carries with it a curse which affects men who wear it, but not women. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. Queen Victoria is the first reigning monarch to have worn the gem. Since Victoria's reign, the stone has generally been worn by the British Queen Consort, never by a male ruler.
The notion 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 Great Exhibition 
- 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 diamond was redisplayed in a shadowed case, designed so the sunlight would catch it better. However, the public were not take by its brilliance even then, and the diamond was recut in 1852, the year after the exhibition. The Koh-I-Noor here made up part of the larger India Museum collection, but was displayed separately from the industrial and natural history exhibits of the collection.
The Crown Jewels 
Disappointment in the appearance of the stone was not uncommon. In 1852, in Amsterdam 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 was then mounted in a brooch which Queen Victoria often wore. It was kept at Windsor Castle rather than with the rest of the crown jewels at the Tower of London.
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 was the first Queen Consort to use the diamond in her crown, followed by Queen Mary and then Queen Elizabeth, the Consort of King George VI.
Present claims to ownership of the Koh-i-noor 
India 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 demanded the return of the diamond. On Feb 21 2013, the visiting UK Prime Minister stated in India that the diamond will not be returned and that it was illogical to return it.
See also 
- Darya-ye Noor Diamond (Sea of Light)
- Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond (The light of the eye)
- List of famous diamonds
- Iradj Amini, ed. (July 20, 2002). "KOH-I-NOOR". United States: Encyclopædia Iranica - Online Version. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Dhruvin Singh, the Last to Lay Arms, by Kartar Singh Duggal. 2001. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 8-170-17410-4 p. 79.
- "Large And Famous Diamonds". Minelinks.com. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Deccan Heritage, H. K. Gupta, A. Parasher and D. Balasubramanian, Indian National Science Academy, 2000, p. 144, Orient Blackswan, ISBN 81-7371-285-9
- Pakistan Before Europe, C.E.B. Asher and C. Talbot, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-80904-5, p. 40
- A History of Pakistan, Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Edition: 3, Routledge, 1998, p. 160; ISBN 0-415-15482-0
- "Koh-i-noor". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- "Indian MPs demand Kohinoor's return". BBC News. 2000-04-26. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Balfour, Ian. Famous Diamonds. 1987, page 24.
- UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Lawrence H. Officer (2010) "What Were the UK Earnings and Prices Then?" MeasuringWorth.
- http://www.hardasrocks.info/kohinoor-diamond.htm. Accessed 13/3/13.
- Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 144.
- Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 27.
- Streeter, Edwin: The Great Diamonds of the World. "Famous Diamonds: Koh-i-Nur, Great Diamond of History & Romance". Farlang.com. p. 109. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Babur (1922): The Baburnama. Translated into English by Annette Beveridge
- Beveridge's Discussion of "great Diamond" (Koh-i-Noor?)
- Abul Fazal: Akbarnama. Translated into English by Henry Beveridge.
- Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste: Travels in India. Translated into English by Valentine Ball and William Crooke
- Tavernier's discussion on the Diamond in Appendix I
- The archives of The Times.
- Photograph of Koh-i-Noor Diamond-cource. Government of UK
- Rushby, Kevin (2004). Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the trail of the Koh-i-Noor diamond. London: Robinson. ISBN 1-84119-882-X.
Secondary source 
- D C Kinsey -Koh‐i‐Noor: Empire, Diamonds, and the Performance of British Material Culture Journal of British Studies Vol. 48, No. 2 (April 2009), pp. 391–419, published by The University of Chicago Press
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- Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco "A Story of the Koh-i-Nûr" The Folk-Lore Journal. Volume 4, pp. 252–4.
- The World of Famous Diamonds
- The Kohinoor Diamond Story
- History of the Kohinoor
- The Koh-i-noor Diamond on h2g2