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Article: Koh-i-Noor


History and Legendary Origin

  • Koh-i-Noor is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats (21.12g).
  • It is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
  • The diamond has multiple conflicting legends on its origin.
  • The earliest attested weight of the diamond is 186 old carats (38.2g).
  • Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, wrote about a famous diamond that weighed over 187 old carats, similar to the Koh-i-Noor.
  • Alauddin Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate acquired a large diamond when he invaded southern India in the 14th century.
  • Babur received the diamond in 1526 as a tribute for his conquest of Delhi and Agra.
  • There are competing theories about the original owner of the diamond.
  • The story of the diamond being cut by Hortense Borgia is not correct.

Early History and Ownership by Ranjit Singh

  • Diamonds were highly valued gemstones in early Indian history.
  • During the Mughal rule, red spinels and Burmese rubies became more desirable than diamonds.
  • Shah Jahan used many jewels from the treasury to make the ornate Peacock Throne in 1635.
  • Nader Shah invaded Mughal territory and captured Delhi, looting the treasury and taking the Koh-i-Noor.
  • Muhammad Kazim Marvi first records seeing the Koh-i-Noor on the Peacock Throne in the 1740s.
  • Ranjit Singh had the diamond examined by jewelers to confirm its genuineness.
  • He donated 125,000 rupees to Shuja Shah Durrani, who previously possessed the diamond.
  • The jewelers declared that the value of the diamond was beyond all computation.
  • Ranjit Singh affixed the diamond to the front of his turban.
  • The diamond became one of Ranjit Singh's favorite jewels.

Ownership disputes

  • The diamond was given to Queen Victoria after the British East India Company's annexation of the Punjab in 1849.
  • It has only been worn by female members of the British royal family since arriving in the UK.
  • The governments of India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Taliban have claimed ownership of the Koh-i-Noor.
  • The British government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore.
  • The Archeological Survey of India clarified that the diamond was surrendered to the British and not stolen.

Journey to the United Kingdom and Current Status

  • The Koh-i-Noor was received by the Governor-General from Dr. Login and sealed in a safe.
  • The jewel was sent to England under tight security arrangements.
  • The diamond had a difficult voyage, including an outbreak of cholera on board.
  • The Koh-i-Noor was kept in a chest at the Bombay Treasury before being sent to England.
  • It was presented to Queen Victoria in the care of Captain J. Ramsay and Lt. Col F. Mackeson.
  • The Koh-i-Noor is currently part of the British Crown Jewels.
  • It is displayed in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels exhibition.
  • The diamond is not set in any particular piece of jewelry and is not regularly worn by the British monarch.
  • There have been calls for the return of the Koh-i-Noor to India, but the British government has refused.
  • The ownership and display of the Koh-i-Noor remains a contentious issue between India and the UK.

Ownership dispute and The Great Exhibition

  • The Koh-i-Noor was displayed at The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London, in 1851.
  • It represented the British Empire and was placed in the central gallery.
  • The diamond's value of £1-2 million attracted large crowds.
  • Initially, it was kept in a gilded birdcage but was later moved to a case with black velvet and gas lamps.
  • Despite efforts to enhance its appearance, the diamond still failed to please viewers.
  • The Koh-i-Noor originally had 169 facets and was 4.1cm long, 3.26cm wide, and 1.62cm deep.
  • Due to dissatisfaction with its appearance, Prince Albert decided to have the diamond polished.
  • The cutting process lasted 38 days and cost £8,000.
  • The diamond's weight was reduced from 186 old carats to 105.6 carats.
  • It now measures 3.6cm long, 3.2cm wide, and 1.3cm deep with a total of 66 facets.
  • After Queen Victoria's death, the Koh-i-Noor was set in the Crown of Queen Alexandra.
  • It was later transferred to Queen Mary's Crown and then to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Crown.
  • Queen Camilla was crowned with Queen Mary's Crown, but without the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
  • The crowns are on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
  • Replicas of the diamond can be seen at the Natural History Museum in London.
  • India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan have all demanded the return of the Koh-i-Noor from the UK.
  • India first demanded its return in 1947, followed by a second request in 1953.
  • The British Government rejected the claims, stating ownership was non-negotiable.
  • In 2000, Indian Parliament members signed a letter calling for the diamond's return.
  • British officials argued that the diamond's original owner could not be established, and it has been part of Britain's heritage for over 150 years.
  • In 1976, Pakistan asserted its ownership of the Koh-i-Noor.
  • The UK rejected the claim, citing explicit provision for its transfer to the British crown in a peace treaty.
  • The prime minister of the UK, James Callaghan, stated that he could not advise surrendering the diamond.
  • Pakistan argued that the return of the diamond would demonstrate Britain's commitment to decolonization

Koh-i-Noor Data Sources

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