The Curse of Kohinoor: Can Only God or Women Wear It?

  • 15 May 2019
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Have you heard of the famed Kohinoor diamond from India? Koh-i-noor means “Mountain of Light” in Persian and it's the most expensive diamond in the world - so expensive it doesn't even have a price tag! Today, Kohinoor is part of the British Crown Jewels and placed in the Tower of London.

For centuries, there has been a myth that men should never wear Kohinoor. It is said that: "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.”

Believing the myth, Queen Victoria who first wore the Kohinoor diamond, left a will stating the diamond should 'only be worn by a queen of the royal family'. 

Origins of Kohinoor

While the origins of the diamond remain unconfirmed, it is believed to have been first discovered in the mines of Golconda in Hyderabad, India. Some legends claim Kohinoor is the 5000-year-old Syamantaka jewel found in Sanskrit texts. 

Owned by the Mughals

The earliest known mention of the diamond was in the 13th century. In a Kakatiya temple in Warangal, Kohinoor was placed as the eye of a deity. The diamond fell into the hands of Alauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate when his empire was raiding and plundering southern India. 

After passing down several dynasties in the Delhi Sultanate, Mughal king Babur received the gem from Ibrahim Lodi at the Battle of Panipat. In his writings, he mentioned it as the ‘Diamond of Babur’ or Baburnama. One of his descendants, Shah Jahan, installed the jewel in his majestic Peacock throne.

From India to Persia and back to India again

The Mughals thought of Kohinoor as their prized possession. After a Persian general, Nadir Shah, was victorious in defeating the Mughal empire, he held a grand feast to restore the Mughal ruler, Muhammad Shah, to the throne. 

It was in this feast that Nadir tricked Shah into giving up Kohinoor, and brought it back with him to Persia. However, in a shocking twist of fate, Nadir didn't live long enough to be proud of his new-found jewel. He was assassinated!

Kohinoor found its way back to India when one of the Persian generals, Shah Shuja Durrani returned it to the Ruler of Lahore, Ranjit Singh whose help he sought to reclaim Afghanistan. 

Seized by the British

The diamond stayed with Ranjit Singh till his death and despite a request in his will to present it to a Jagannath temple in Puri, the East India Company made his son Duleep Singh surrender Kohinoor to Queen Victoria of England. 

In 1850, after the Last Treaty of Lahore was signed, Kohinoor left India and was given to Queen Victoria. She had it recut and wore it as a brooch. Eventually, the diamond was placed in the Crown Jewels that is now roughly estimated to cost from 10 to 12 billion dollars. 

Many Indians still feel that Kohinoor has been stolen by British royalty. While the curse is believed by Queen Victoria herself, it makes us wonder why not all the men who owned and wore the diamond were subjected to misfortunes and despair.

Do you think the Kohinoor diamond is truly cursed? Let us know in the comments!

Source: The Better India, BBC & Kohinoor Diamond
Photo Credit: The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, Catch News, The Better India & History of Kohinoor Diamond

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