Thursday, February 8, 2018

History of Kohinoor Diamond

The Kohinoor diamond was mined at the Rayalaseema diamond mine in the Kollur mine in Golconda, India during the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty. It was taken away from a King of Malwa in 1306 whose family possessed it for generations.
Babur, the Turco-Mongol founder of the Mughal Empire, wrote about a "famous" diamond that weighed just over 187 old carats – approximately the size of the 186-carat Koh-i-Noor.Some historians think Babur's diamond is the earliest reliable reference to the Koh-i-Noor. According to his diary, it was acquired by Alauddin Khalji, second ruler of the Khalji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, when he invaded the kingdoms of southern India at the beginning of the 14th century. It later passed to succeeding dynasties of the Sultanate, and Babur received the diamond in 1526 as a tribute for his conquest of Delhi and Agra at the Battle of Panipat.
Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal emperor, had the stone placed into his ornate Peacock Throne. In 1658, his son and successor, Aurangzeb, confined the ailing emperor to Agra Fort. While in the possession of Aurangzeb, it was allegedly cut by Hortenso Borgia, a Venetian lapidary, reducing the weight of the large stone to 186 carats (37.2 g). For this carelessness, Borgia was reprimanded and fined 10,000 rupees According to recent research the story of Borgia cutting the diamond is not correct, and most probably mixed up with the Orlov, part of Catherine the Great's imperial Russian sceptre in the Kremlin.
One of Ranjit Singh's favourite horses with the head of his stables. His jewels are shown, to scale, including the Koh-i-Noor
Following the 1739 invasion of Delhi by Nader Shah, the Afsharid Shah of Persia, the treasury of the Mughal Empire was looted by his army in an organised and thorough acquisition of the Mughal nobility's wealth. Along with millions of rupees and an assortment of historic jewels, the Shah also carried away the Koh-i-Noor. He exclaimed Koh-i-Noor!, Persian for "Mountain of Light", when he obtained the famous stone. One of his consorts said, "If a strong man were to throw four stones – one north, one south, one east, one west, and a fifth stone up into the air – and if the space between them were to be filled with gold, all would not equal the value of the Koh-i-Noor".
After Nader Shah was killed and his empire collapsed in 1747, the Koh-i-Noor fell to his grandson, who in 1751 gave it to Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Afghan Empire, in return for his support. One of Ahmed's descendants, Shuja Shah Durrani, wore a bracelet containing the Koh-i-Noor on the occasion of Mountstuart Elphinstone's visit to Peshawar in 1808. A year later, Shujah formed an alliance with the United Kingdom to help defend against a possible invasion of Afghanistan by Russia. He was quickly overthrown, but fled with the diamond to Lahore, where Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, in return for his hospitality, insisted upon the gem being given to him, and he took possession of it in 1813.
Acquisition by Queen Victoria
Its new owner, Ranjit Singh, willed the diamond to the East India Company administered Hindu Jagannath Temple in Puri, in modern-day Odisha, India. However, after his death in 1839, his will was not executed. On 29 March 1849, following the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the Kingdom of Punjab was formally annexed to Company rule, 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. Article III of the treaty read: "The gem called the Koh-i-Noor, which was taken from Shah Sooja-ool-moolk by Maharajah Ranjeet Singh, shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England (sic)".
The Governor-General in charge of the ratification of this treaty was the Marquess of Dalhousie. The manner of his aiding in the transfer of the diamond was criticized even by some of his contemporaries in Britain. Although some thought it should have been presented as a gift to Queen Victoria by the East India Company, it is clear that Dalhousie believed the stone was a spoil of war, and treated it accordingly, ensuring that it was officially surrendered to her by Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Ranjit Singh.The presentation of the Koh-i-Noor by the East India Company to the queen was the latest in a long history of transfers of the diamond as a coveted spoil of war. Duleep Singh had been placed in the guardianship of Dr John Login, a surgeon in the British Army serving in the Presidency of Bengal. Duleep Singh would move to England in 1854.
In due course, the Governor-General received the Koh-i-Noor from Dr Login, who had been appointed Governor of the Citadel, on 6 April 1848 under a receipt dated 7 December 1849, in the presence of members of the Board of Administration for the affairs of the Punjab: Sir Henry Lawrence (President), C. G. Mansel, John Lawrence and Sir Henry Elliot (Secretary to the Government of India).
Legend in the Lawrence family has it that before the voyage, John Lawrence left the jewel in his waistcoat pocket when it was sent to be laundered, and was most grateful when it was returned promptly by the valet who found it.
On 1 February 1850, the jewel was sealed in a small iron safe inside a red dispatch box, both sealed with red tape and a wax seal and kept in a chest at Bombay Treasury awaiting a steamer ship from China. It was then sent to England for presentation to Queen Victoria in the care of Captain J. Ramsay and Brevet Lt. Col F. Mackeson under tight security arrangements, one of which was the placement of the dispatch box in a larger iron safe. They departed from Bombay on 6 April on board HMS Medea, captained by Captain Lockyer.
The Koh-i-Noor was formally presented to Queen Victoria on 3 July 1850 at Buckingham Palace by the deputy chairman of the East India Company.[32] The date had been chosen to coincide with the Company's 250th anniversary.

Members of the public were given a chance to see the Koh-i-Noor when The Great Exhibition was staged at Hyde Park, London, in 1851. It represented the might of the British Empire and took pride of place in the eastern part of the central gallery.
Originally, the diamond had 169 facets and was 4.1 centimetres (1.6 in) long, 3.26 centimetres (1.28 in) wide, and 1.62 centimetres (0.64 in) deep. It was high-domed, with a flat base and both triangular and rectangular facets, similar in overall appearance to other Mughal era diamonds which are now in the Iranian Crown Jewels.
Disappointment in the appearance of the stone was not uncommon. After consulting various mineralogists, including Sir David Brewster, it was decided by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, with the consent of the government, to polish the Koh-i-Noor. One of the largest and most famous Dutch diamond merchants, Mozes Coster, was employed for the task. He sent to London one of his most experienced artisans, Levie Benjamin Voorzanger, and his assistants.
The 1852 re-cutting
On 17 July 1852, the cutting began at the factory of Garrard & Co. in Haymarket, using a steam-powered mill built specially for the job by Maudslay, Sons and Field. Under the supervision of Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington, and the technical direction of the queen's mineralogist, James Tennant, the cutting took thirty-eight days. Albert spent a total of £8,000 on the operation, which reduced the weight of the diamond from 186 old carats (191 modern carats or 38.2 g) to its current 105.6 carats (21.12 g). The stone measures 3.6 cm (1.4 in) long, 3.2 cm (1.3 in) wide, and 1.3 cm (0.5 in) deep. Brilliant-cut diamonds usually have fifty-eight facets, but the Koh-i-Noor has eight additional "star" facets around the culet, making a total of sixty-six facets.
After Queen Victoria's death, the Koh-i-Noor was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, that was used to crown her at their coronation in 1902. The diamond was transferred to Queen Mary's Crown in 1911, and finally to The Queen Mother's Crown in 1937. When The Queen Mother died in 2002, it was placed on top of her coffin for the lying-in-state and funeral.
All these crowns are on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London with crystal replicas of the diamond set in the older crowns. The original bracelet given to Queen Victoria can also be seen there. A glass model of the Koh-i-Noor shows visitors how it looked when it was brought to the United Kingdom. Replicas of the diamond in this and its re-cut forms can also be seen in the 'Vault' exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London.