Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Who's the actual owner of Kohinoor, the cursed but dazzling diamond?

The fabled Kohinoor diamond about which so many books and articles have been written in the last several decades has,  once in a while, become a topic of discussion and controversy. This time it is not about the curses and their impact on the owners, but it is about the British crown and how they got the most valuable, exquisite diamond in the world  and who is the real owner. So, the ownership of Kohinoor has become a contentious issue with the British government.  Talking about the past history of this diamond  is something like beating a dead snake. As it is known, the famous, dazzling diamond  came from Kollur diamond mines, near Golconda (near Hyderabad) in the newly formed state of Telengana, S. India.

kohinoor diamond. financialexpress.

 Above image: Kohinoor diamond. 105.602 carats (21.1204 g), It weighed 793 carats (158.6 g) uncut and was first owned by the Kakatiya dynasty, S.India..  ..............

Nader Shah (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Shah Shujah Durrani (left) and Maharaja Ranjit Singh (right) 
Wikimedia Commons

 According to William Dalrymple - presently  working on his forthcoming non-fiction history book, koh-i-nur along with Anita Anand (vide Indian Express report dated May 01, 2016), the amazing diamond holds the ambiguous position in India's complex history.  That who is the real owner of Kohinoor is a moot question and one can not get the right answer. One interesting fact is though it is of Indian origin, through out its history, Kohinoor was owned by a number of rulers, none of them was an Indian.  This diamond moved across the boundaries of India, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan (once part of India) and now England.  Nadir Shah raided Delhi during the mogul period and took away the diamond, Peakcock throne and other stuff to Iran. Centuries later Kohinoor  came into the position of Maharajah of Patiala Rajit Singh through  Shah Shujah of Afghanistan (also once part of India ). The Sikh ruler got the diamond from Shujah, purportedly using force. India's contention, that it was more of a gift to the British  Crown by the Indian ruler and it was not taken away by the British under force, has opened the Pandora's box. India's position is now fodder to the people who, driven by national pride and historical events,  want the British to return the diamond to India.


William Dalrymple has observed “The Indian case rests on the claim that the British took away the diamond by force. I think there is no doubt about that. It is complete nonsense that it was gifted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikhs. Maharaja Ranjit Singh kept it with him his whole life. It was during the regency of his son Duleep Singh that the diamond was taken away. There is not much to dispute about that. It was part of the peace treaty of the British and was handed over in the process of the defeat of the Sikhs as one of the spoils going to the victor. Further,  if the Indians accuse the British of having taken the precious stone  by force, so did the Sikh ruler who got the diamond from  Shah Shujah  by torturing and starving him.  Dalrymple  has placed his argument on the strength of some Persian manuscripts he got back from Kabul pertaining to Shah Shujah Durrani’s (ruler of the Durrani empire in present day Afghanistan from 1803-1809) life.

Maharaja Duleep Singh.themystery2012.blogspot.com

The history of Kohinoor is highly complicated, further compounded by  stories of  dreadful curses and horrors.  With exceptions, none of the owners had a natural death, it was violent end of their lives.  Nor did they have quiet and peaceful life to talk about. Including the British crown , every body had more losses than gains. After the possession of Kohinoor, the British empire crumpled and now England is back to where they were - something like a baseball shrinking to the size of a marble!! The British Royal family members had and now have their own woes, confined to the four walls of their palace. As for the early owner Maharajah Ranjit Singh and his heirs, they lost the kingdom to the EIC.

 About the process of reclaiming the Kohinoor by India, the  British author says, considering the involvement of so many countries, in the backdrop of highly complicated history 'there is not much progress to be made by such a move'. Kohinoor is the symbol of British looting. History of the diamond being complex and messy because of several cross border historical events, nothing is going to be gained by demanding retribution.

India has lots of problems up to her neck. Why does India need the cursed diamond back?  It is superstitious or not, it is roughly equal to resurrecting the ghost of Kohinoor from the undisturbed grave. If our honest politicians act effectively and see to it that our natural resources are not looted by perverted, arrogant politicians and corrupt government officials, with the money saved, we can buy so many Kohinoor diamonds and find a pride place in this world. Let the Indian government get rid of those officials who follow the foot steps of Robert Clive of the East India company, the cleverest man in the British history.


.. Kohinoor diamond  was mined  at Kollur mines (in Guntur district) and owned by the rulers  of the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty of S. India  in the 13th century.

..  In the early 14th century, Alauddin Khilji, second ruler of the Turkic Khilji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate got the diamond from S. India during raids led by Malik Kafur, a Hindu convert and homosexual.

..  Kohinoor was taken to Iran after 1739 invasion of Delhi by Nader Shah, the ruler of Iran during the reign of the Mogul  ruler Muhammad Shah (the Battle of Karnal on 24 February, 1739)

..  After the assassination of Nader Shah in 1747 and the collapse of his empire, the stone changed hands and came into the hands of one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Durrani

..  Shujah overthrown by his predecessor, Mahmud Shah, fled  with the diamond  to Lahore. The the Sikh ruler, Maharajah Ranjit Singh, in return for his hospitality got the diamond from Shujah in 1813.

.. The new owner, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, willed the diamond to the Hindu temple of Jagannath in Puri, now in Odisha, India. Unfortunately, after his death in 1839, the East India Company did not execute his will  and on  29 March, 1849,  after the end of f the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the Kingdom of Punjab was formally annexed to British India, and the Last Treaty of Lahore was signed, officially, ceding the Koh-i-Noor to Queen Victoria and the Maharaja's other assets to the company. Lord Dalhousie was instrumental in getting the diamond as gift to Queen Victoria from young Raja Duleep Singh.

..The diamond was handed to Queen Victoria in July 1850

Timur ruby. www.aboutrubyjewelry.com

Above image:  Timur ruby. The ruby  weighs 352.5  carats and until 1851, it was the largest ruby in the world. The gemstone took its name after the great Asian conquer Timur.   ..............

.. As part of the Lahore Treaty the British, besides Kohinoor diamond, also received the largest Ruby in the world (weighing 352.5  carats) called 'Timur ruby' from the royal members of Punjab Maharajah. It is  is an unfaceted,  361- carat polished red  spinel  gemstone set in a necklace in 1853, now part of the British Crown Jewels. It is named after the ruler Timur.  It was believed to be a ruby until 1851. It is inscribed with the names and dates of six of its previous owners. Maharajah Ranjit took its possession from Shujah.