The left eye of Bhadrakali in Warangal.
The Peacock Throne that Shah Jahan ensconced himself in.
The myriad wagons of loot that lurched towards Nader Shah.
The wrist of Shuja Shah Durrani.
The turban of Ranjit Singh.
The bosom of Queen Victoria.
The Crown of Queen Alexandria.
Truly poetic, isn’t it?
Even the intercontinental voyage that the Koh-i-Noor embarked upon since its discovery is enviable. The gemstone might have unironically witnessed one of the greatest arcs of recorded human history.
The Koh-i-Noor is a mesmerising diamond that is by far, the most prominent of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. 105.6 carats of pure magnificence, paired with a side of violence and destruction. Or rather, a main course of Coq au Violence/Destruction and a side of roasted potato 105.6 carats salad. A scrumptious meal, with no semblance of a doubt.
How much does this meal really cost?
The Koh-i-Noor is priceless and is not just the centrepiece of the Crown Jewels; it serves as the centrepiece of several disputes for India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.
Personally, one of the most striking features of this diamond is just how a gemstone that weighs 21.12 grams is the subject of dispute for a vast multitude of reasons. The ridges and edges of the diamond reflect light so beautifully that you can gaze upon the horrors of war, human greed, and colonialism with such clarity.
Is the Koh-i-Noor priceless?
The very same diamond failed to impress the audience at Hyde Park, London in 1851. The diamond sported an unusually broad cutlet that created the illusion of peering into a black hole,
when viewed straight ahead. Could this have been an indication of the ignorance of the origins and implications of this piece? Alas, several questions have shrouded themselves in the velvety veil of history.
Though the Koh-i-Noor is one of the most coveted possessions of the British Empire, it does not come close to the rich legacy of the British empire; fraught with victory, glory, conquest, and lavish plunder.
Colonialism. The device that enabled the British to fill their coffers and their bellies beyond their wildest dreams.
A British joint-stock company had evolved to an unprecedented size that it was larger than entire nations. It was succeeded by the British Empire which augmented British influence and power. It had managed to accomplish feats that still seem Herculean, all under 3 centuries.
It is important to note that conquest and colonial rule had different implications and were viewed differently during the time that multiple European powers had set out eastwards in the never-ending pursuit of wealth.
The question of morality and the nature of acquisition of wealth and government is buffered in an irretrievable grey area that has hidden pitfalls and interminable lines of questioning. Engaging in a discourse along the lines of morality is sure to bring no dearth of thorny questions, as is evident throughout history.
A diamond is a diamond. It has been used as a figure of permanence and durability by authors and engineers alike. A diamond is distressed coal that is an unparalleled object of human desire. And the Koh-i-Noor needs no prior description for an individual to appreciate its innate qualities. Interspersed within the crystalline structure of this diamond are the most intense juxtapositions and irony. It is a rare object that conveys stories and poems through light of a distant time.
Trapped in the walls of this priceless, elegant stone are the hoarse cries for mercy by the hapless Indian subordinates and the hearty merriment of rich British overlords.
The coal that burnt on the first train journey from Bori Bunder to Thane was but a distant cousin that burnt down Indian prestige.
A mountain of light, it is appropriately called. A beacon of light that summoned the darkest of human desires. The Koh-i-Noor will never fail to bedazzle and bewilder.