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A comparison of between the stories of the star and the necklace

According to Hindu belief, it was revered by gods like Krishna—even though it seemed to carry a curse, if the luck of its owners was anything to go by. The gem, which would come to be known as the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, wove its way through Indian court intrigues before eventually ending up in the British Crown Jewels by the mid-1800s.

But according to historians Anita Anand and William Dalrymple, that geologist got it all wrong. And the true history has its share of drama. All the romance, all the blood, all the gore, all the bling.

The True Story of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond—And Why the British Won’t Give It Back

How should modern nations deal with a colonial legacy of looting? To understand where the diamond came from—and whether it could ever go back—requires diving into the murky past, when India was ruled by outsiders: Most of the gemstones were alluvial, meaning they could be sifted out of river sands, and rulers of the subcontinent embraced their role as the first diamond connoisseurs. Turco-Mongol leader Zahir-ud-din Babur came from Central Asia through the Kyber Pass located between modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan to invade India in 1526, establishing the Islamic Mughal dynasty and a new era of infatuation with gemstones.

The Mughals would rule northern India for 330 years, expanding their territory across nearly all of present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and eastern Afghanistan, all the while reveling in the mountains of gemstones they inherited and pillaged. In 1628, Mughal ruler Shah Jahan commissioned a magnificent, gemstone-encrusted throne. The bejeweled structure was inspired by the fabled throne of Solomon, the Hebrew king who figures into the histories of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

As court chronicler Ahmad Shah Lahore writes in his account of the throne: On top of each pillar there were to be two peacocks thick set with gems, and between each of the two peacocks a tree set with rubies and diamonds, emeralds and pearls. The diamond was lodged at the very top of the throne, in the head of a glistening gemstone peacock.

For a century after the creation of the Peacock Throne, the Mughal Empire retained its supremacy in India and beyond. It was the wealthiest state in Asia; Delhi, the capital city, was home to 2 million people, more than London and Paris combined. But that prosperity attracted the attention of other rulers in Central Asia, including Persian ruler Nader Shah.

When Nader invaded Delhi in 1739, the ensuing carnage cost tens of thousands of lives and the depletion of the treasury. Nader left the city accompanied by so much gold and so many gems that the looted treasure required 700 elephants, 4,000 camels and 12,000 horses to pull it and you thought all that fanfare in Aladdin was Disney-ized embellishment.

Nader took the Peacock Throne as part of his treasure, but removed the Timur Ruby and the Koh-i-Noor diamond to wear on an armband.

  • While he is an important character in the book, he is not nearly as prominent as he is in the film version;
  • The creature swallows the submersible whole;
  • In part due to this decision, the movie highlights even more the racial prejudices of the South in the 1930s, even if doing so in a less nuanced fashion.

The Koh-i-Noor would remain away from India—in a country that would become Afghanistan—for 70 years. It passed between the hands of various rulers in one blood-soaked episode after another, including a king who blinded his own son and a deposed ruler whose shaved head was coronated with molten gold.

With all the fighting between Central Asian factions, a power vacuum grew in India—and the British soon came to take advantage of it. Wikimedia Commons At the turn of the 19th century, the British East India Company expanded its territorial control from coastal cities to the interior of the India subcontinent.

After decades of fighting, the diamond returned to India and came into the hands of Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh in 1813, whose particular affection for the gem ultimately sealed its aura of prestige and power. If they could own the jewel of India as well as the country itself, it would symbolize their power and colonial superiority. It was a diamond worth fighting and killing for, now more than ever.

Comparing an Original Story to Its Film Version

Its author urged the British East India Company to do whatever they could to keep track of the Koh-i-Noor, so that it might ultimately be theirs. But the colonists were first forced to wait out a chaotic period of changing rulers. At the end of the violent period, the only people left in line for the throne were a young boy, Duleep Singh, and his mother, Rani Jindan. And in 1849, after imprisoning Jindan, the British forced Duleep to sign a legal document amending the Treaty of Lahore, that required Duleep to give away the Koh-i-Noor and all claim to sovereignty.

The boy was only 10 years old.

From there, the diamond became a special possession of Queen Victoria. It was displayed at the 1851 Great Exposition in London, only for the British public to be dismayed at how simple it was. Queen Victoria wears the Koh-i-Noor diamond as a brooch in 1887. The diamond came to its current place of honor in 1937, at the front of the crown worn by the Queen Mother, wife of George IV and mother of Elizabeth II.

  • The bejeweled structure was inspired by the fabled throne of Solomon, the Hebrew king who figures into the histories of Islam, Judaism and Christianity;
  • People are taught this was a gift from India to Britain;
  • It was a diamond worth fighting and killing for, now more than ever;
  • Both the film and the book also show the evidence in the trial clearly pointing to his innocence;
  • The sea monster now heads in the direction of the sub;
  • Starter Questions First off, be sure to read the original story first.

Alamy Still shrouded in myth and mystery including a rumor that the diamond is cursed one thing is clear when it comes to the Koh-i-Noor: What is the moral distinction between stuff taken by force in colonial times? Born and raised in the UK, her family is Indian and her relatives regularly visited. It is now displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, having been donated by Harry Winston, who legally purchased it.

He and Dalrymple both point out that the rulers who once owned these gemstones headed nations that no longer exist.

But returning pillaged art and treasure from World War II, as complicated as that can be, is still far less complex than unraveling colonial history. By the time you hit the second or third owner over time, the information can get more difficult to research.

So far, the UK has retained ownership of the statues and the diamond, regardless of calls for their return. People are taught this was a gift from India to Britain.

I would like the correct history to be put by the diamond. Anand and Dalrymple only hope that their work will do some good by clarifying the true path the infamous gemstone followed—and helping leaders come to their own conclusions about what to do with it next.

She has previously written for The Atlantic, Salon, Nautilus and others. She is also the author of The Last Voyageurs: