Currently, both India and Pakistan have requested that the English Crown return one of their most precious and famous treasures, the Koh-i-Noor. Its existence can be traced back to the 14th century, when it belonged to an Indian maharajah. It later appeared in the possession of the Grand Moguls of India, the rulers of Afghani origin who conquered India and left behind some of the most beautiful monuments in the world.
At the end of the 18th century, their empire was weakened, much to the benefit of Nader Shah, the Persian sovereign. He invaded India and conquered Delhi, and with it the immense treasure of Mohammad Shah, the reigning Grand Mogul. Missing, however, was the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Nader Shah wanted the jewel, he would do anything for it. A spy learned that the Grand Mogul had hidden the stone in his turban. So the Grand Mogul was invite to dinner. After the soup was served, Nader Shah proposed the two men exchange turbans as a traditional guarantee of friendship. The Grand Mogul knew the stone was lost, what could he do? With deep sadness, he gave his turban to Nader Shah, who in turn passed Mohammad Shah his worthless turban. Returning to his tent, Nader Shah feverishly searched through the folds of cloth when suddenly he saw the diamond. It shined in such a way that Nader Shah, in awe, murmured “Koh-i-Noor”, “mountain of light”. The name has stuck ever since.
Nader Shah soon returned to Persia at the head of a caravan of thousands of camels transporting countless precious objects and other Indian treasures. He was assassinated a few years later. A quarter of the treasure was then stolen, another quarter remained in Persia and now belongs to Iran where it backs the national currency, a unique situation in History. As for the other half, Nader Shah had it prudently buried somewhere in Khorasan, his birthplace. It comprises the greatest treasure in the world, half of the jewels of India, and has yet to be discovered.
The Koh-i-Noor remained with Nader Shah, but disappeared following his death. It later turned up in the possession of Ranjit Singh, a Raja from Panjab and a great warrior with an explosive personality. Ranjit was attacked and defeated by the English. In the terms of the treaty he was forced to sign, he ceded the Koh-i-Noor to Queen Victoria. She was disappointed with how it shone, and had the stone recut. The work took the Koh-i-Noor from 180 carats down to 108, but in the process it became the most brilliant sparkling diamond in the world.
The Koh-i-Noor has a reputation for bringing bad luck to men, but good luck to women. It was set in the crown of the Queen Consort, not the crown of the King of England. Following Victoria, all English queens were crowned with the sparkling Koh-i-Noor. The last time it was publicly displayed was during the interment of the Queen Mother Elizabeth. Watching the procession on the television, I was amazed by the sparkling of this stone, oscillating back and forth on the royal casket.
Pakistan has no grounds for recuperating the stone, it wasn’t a country at the time. It is unlikely that India will fair much better in their request, as the diamond was surrendered to the English as part of a written treaty signed by the stone’s owner, even if he was perhaps forced into signing it.