Monday, July 30, 2012

Timeline of the Koh-i-Nur (Koh-i-Noor) Diamond (Part 1): Oral Tradition to 1526

Koh-i-Noor Armlet
Photo Credit: Stalking the Belle Epoque
 compiled by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Many of my sources do not provide bibliographic reference, and the diamond’s history is shrouded in oral tradition and often disappeared for decades without being seen by the public, so these dates are rough and unproven, but the path these historians follow seems to be a logical one, so I will share it with you with the disclaimer that I have not been able to prove these dates unequivocally.

circa 3,000 BC            
Surya, the Sun God, gives Syamantaka mani to Satrajit near Dwarka.

Surya in his chariot
Photo Credit: Hindu God Wallpaper
Time between times    
Syamantaka mani is handed down among many legendary kings

Circa 300 BC              
Syamantaka mani is supposedly given to King Porus of Punjab.

325 BC                        
King Alexander of Macedonia, impressed with King Porus’ regal manners, allowed him to maintain rule of his land. Alexander signed a peace treaty with King Porus, allowing Porus to maintain governance of Punjab. The jewel remained in India when Alexander returned to Macedonia.

320  BC                       
King Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire and successfully unified India. The diamond became part of his treasury in Pataliputra.

298 BC                        
Bindusara inherited his father’s throne and treasury, including the famed jewel.

273 BC                        
Ashoka the Great, Bindusara’s son, received the jewel when he acceded his father on the throne of the great Mauryan Empire. After seeing much bloodshed, he turned to peace through the Buddhist religion. He is credited with the worldwide spread of Buddhism.

Photo Credit: Stravaganza
224 BC            
Samprati (Ashoka’s grandson), who earlier impressed his grandfather with his skills as an administrator and warrior, claims his rightful place upon the throne of the Mauryan dynasty. Along with the throne, he inherited the jewel and took it to Ujjain.

215 BC to 185 BC            
The gemstone remained in Ujjain throughout the next several centuries, passed down among the successive rulers of the Mauryan Empire.

185 BC to 320 AD           
The Mauryan Empire crumbled, and the city of Ujjain was ruled by the Sungas, the Satavahanas, and then the Rors. The whereabouts of the gemstone during this time remain a mystery.

320 AD           The Gupta Dynasty began, and Ujjain became a prominent port city of that dynasty.  The whereabouts of the gemstone during this time remain a mystery.

375 AD           
Vikramaditya (Chandragupta II), emperor of the Gupta dynasty (a Hindu dynasty), adopted the city of Ujjain as the capital city of his empire. It is at this time that some believe he acquired the Syamantaka mani.

415 AD to 1293 AD         
Vikramditya died in 415 AD, leaving the country in turmoil. In this season, the diamond was held in custody by the Parmar dynasty of Malwa, which remained in power until 1305 AD.

1294 AD         
It is recorded in the Baburnama that the last Rajah of Malwa (unnamed in the text) handed the diamond over to Ala-ud-din Khilji, the first ruler of Khilji Dynasty. Babur, who wrote the Babrunama in 1526 AD, did not document his sources as to the lineage of the diamond, so he may have been recording oral legends surrounding the stone. And there is some discrepancy in my documentation, as some say that Khilji did not attain the stone until 1306 AD.

Ala-ud-din Khilji
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

1294 AD        
If Babur’s account is correct, this would be the diamond’s first trip away from Malwa in a long time. Khilji ruled his dynasty from Delhi. The history of the diamond remains fuzzy up until Babur acquired it in 1526. The remainder of this timeline is not intended to be a documentation of the diamond, but rather of the tumultuous 

1517 AD         
Ibrahim Lodi ascended the throne of Delhi. At this time rebellion was incited by his younger brother, Jalal Khan, who attempted to claim the throne. After failing in his attempt, he sought refuge from the Raja of Gwalior, at which time Lodi captured Gwalior. Jalal escaped and fled to Malwa, where he was murdered by the Gonds. Lodi’s reign became a reign of suspicion and terror, as he turned every friend into a foe and brought about the end of the Delhi Sultanate.

1526 AD         
Babur invades India and defeats Ibrahim Lodi at the Battle of Panipat. One source explains that the both Lodi and Raja Vikramaditya of Gwalior were killed on the battlefield of Panipat. Captured by the Mughal army after an attempt to escape, the Raja’s family were permitted by Prince Humayan to take their leave without punishment. In an expression of gratitude, it is said that the royal family of Gwalior gave a mass of jewels, including the Koh-i-Nur diamond, to the Prince.


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8. Wikipedia. "Bindusara." Accessed July 23, 2012.
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11. Chaurasia, R. S. History of Medieval India From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002.
12. Sikh Institute. Maharaja Duleep Singh: The King in Exile. Appendix: Koh-I-Noor Diamond--Its History. Accessed July 23, 2012.
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20. Rushby, Kevin. “Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the Trail of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.” Great Britain: Constable and Company Limited, 1999.
21. Harlow, George E., editor. “The Nature of Diamonds.” CambridgeUKCambridge University Press, 1998.
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24. Wikipedia. "Crown of Queen Mary." Accessed July 23, 2012.
25. ReoCities. "The Memoirs of Babur." Accessed July 23, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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