The Story of Kouh-e Noor and Daryay-e Noor Diamonds

By: Safiyeh Sheibani

Summary: Daryay-e Noor, is the largest and most beautiful diamond among the national jewelry of Iran. The 182 carat diamond dates back to nearly 1,000 years ago. Kouh-e Noor and Daryay-e Noor, were among booties brought to Iran by Afshar King Nader Shah. The Kouh-e Noor whose weight before being cut was over 793 metric carat, now weighs 108 carat, and is encrusted into the crown of the British queen. When Nader Shah was killed, Kouh-e Noor was taken to Afghanistan by one of Nader’s military commanders.


Daryay-e Noor, also called the sister of Kouh-e Noor, is the biggest and most beautiful diamond among the national jewelry of Iran, extracted nearly one thousand years ago.

Like other diamonds, Daryay-e Noor was heavier than now before being cut. It now weights nearly 182 carats.

Daryay-e Noor along with Kouh-e Noor were among the booties taken and brought to Iran by the King Nader of Afshar dynasty.

After Nader, his grand son Shahrokh took possession of the Daryay-e Noor. Then it fell to the hands of an Mir Alam Khan who was an Arab and then to Mohammad Hassan Khan Qajar, the ancestor of the Qajar kings. After the murder of Mohammad Hassan Khan and following a series of incidents, King Karim Khan of Zandiyeh dynasty became the owner of the diamond and after his death it was passed to his son Lotfali Khan.

In order to defeat Lotfali Khan, Agah Mohammad Khan of Qajar dynasty attacked Kerman and Arg Bam castle, massacring the innocent people. It is said that the eyes of 200,000 people in Kerman were taken out and piled up in the city of Kerman. At last, Agha Mohammad Khan, in collaboration with a person called Ibrahim Khan Kalantar, a Jew who had converted to Islam, managed to arrest Lotfali Khan, the brave young king of Zandiyeh dynasty. Lotfali Khan was tortured and made blind and the diamonds, Daryay-e Noor and Taajmaah were detached from his arm band and attached to the arm band worn by Agha Mohammad Khan. So it was how the Daryay-e Noor diamond was transferred to the Qajar dynasty.

Until the time of Qajar king, Nasereddin Shah, the diamond was among the gems encrusted into one of the royal arm bands, but during his reign wearing arm band gradually got out of fashion. Then, the diamond was fitted into the hat of the king, put inside a golden frame along with other jewels such as the golden emblems of a lion and a sun as well as a begemmed crown decorated with 475 pieces of small diamonds as four pieces of ruby.

Darya-ye Noor Diamond of Iran

Daryay-e Noor, cut from both sides, is like a pyramid with a four by three centimeter base. All sides of the diamond are smooth. The phrase "As-Soltan Sahebqaran Fathali Shah Qajar" has been engraved on one side of the diamond upon the order of the Qajar king which has reduced the value of the gem.

Nasereddin Shah believed that the Daryay-e Noor diamond had been among the gems decorating the crown of Sirus (or Keikhosrow), and for this reason he was very much interested in this gem. He sometimes attached the gem to his hat or his watch chain or on his shirt. He even assigned some personalities from the rich and aristocrat families to take care of the diamond. The book "Montazam Naseri" which describes the events in Iran in 1878 writes that at that time Mohammad Rahim Khan Khazen al-Molk had been appointed to the post of superintendent of the diamond.

Later on, Daryay-e Noor was transferred to the National Jewelry Museum and remained there until 1908. In that year, Mohammad Ali Mirza, who had been defeated by the pro-constitution forces, took shelter in the Russian embassy at Zargandeh quarter in northern Tehran, along with some jewels including Daryay-e Noor diamond, which he claimed belonged to him. This precious gem of Iran, which was reminiscent of the battles of Nader Shah, was almost taken out of the country, as was its counterpart Kouh-e Noor. Due to the efforts of freedom fighters and nationalist forces and after long negotiations, Mohammad Ali Mirza finally consented to return Daryay-e Noor and some other jewels to the Royal Treasury.

The Kouh-e Noor, now placed on the crown of the British queen, has a wonderful story. Many fables have been written or told by people about the Kouh-e Noor diamond. For example, "Mahabharata", the book about ancient India, says that five thousand years ago, Karna, the son of the god of sun and the great Indian warrior, was the first person to own the diamond. The diamond belonged to a Raja of India in 1,000 B.C. in Rajputana. Other incidents have happened to the precious gem since the 8th century lunar hejira.

In the 14th century A.D., Kouh-e Noor changed hands between the Malwa kings ruling the countries northwest of India. In 1309 A.D., the diamond fell to the hand of Prince Aladdin Mohammad Khalji, the nephew and son-in-law of Jalaleddin Firooz Shah, and brought to New Delhi.

From 1506 to 1525, Homayoon, the son of Babar, defeated King Ibrahim Ludi, killing the king.At that time, the diamond which then weighted 40 grams, was gifted to Homayoon. Later, Kouh-e Noor was passed on to Orang Zib, Shah Jahan and Mohammad Shah and then brought to Iran after the attack on Iran by Iranian king Nader Shah.

After Nader was killed, Ahmad Khan Abdali Dorrani, one of the army commanders of Nader Shah looted the camp of the king as well as parts of his jewelry and then fled to Afghanistan. The diamond was seized by Afghan rulers.

After Ahmad Khan Dorrani, the diamond was seized by his grandson Shah Shoja. Doost Mohammad Khan Afghani, who had been elected as king by the people, attacked Shah Shoja and exiled him to Kashmir and Lahore (1812).

However, Shah Shoja brought the diamond to India. Regent Singh, the despotic and blood-thirsty ruler of Sikhs, known as the lion of Punjab, who ruled the Punjab Province (1780-1839 A.D.), asked for the Kouh-e Noor diamond.

The wife of Shah Shoja, who loved her husband very much, with the help of Lord Oakland of Britain, compelled Regent Singh, to help Shah Shoja regain its throne in Afghanistan, in return for Kouh-e Noor.

Accepting the proposal, Regent Singh helped Shah Shoja return to the throne in Afghanistan and in turn he took possession of Kouh-e Noor.

Unfortunately, after a short while, Shah Shoja was killed in Afghanistan and subsequently the diamond remained in the hands of Regent Sing until his death when it was passed on to his son.

In 1846, Dilip Singh, the younger son of Regent Singh rose up against the British colonial forces but was finally defeated and had its diamond treasures including Kouh-e Noor seized by the managers of the East India Company in 1849. Then, the governor of India sent the precious diamond to Britain as a gift for Queen Victoria.

On June 3, 1850, the Kouh-e Noor diamond was formally presented to the British queen and one year later in 1851, this beautiful Indian diamond was put on display for the public. Kouh-e Noor weighed over 793 carats before being cut.

For the first time, Shah Shoja gave the diamond to a jeweler to be cut, but the poor performance of the jeweler upset the king so much that not only he did not pay the jeweler his wage but also fined him 1,000 rupees as compensation.

Before being sent to Britain by the governor of India, the diamond weighed over 191 metric carats but its weight reduced to 108 carats after the British queen ordered the diamond to be cut for the second time by the jeweler of her court.

Kouh-e Noor, this controversial diamond, was inlaid in the crown of the Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) in 1937 and since then it has been carefully protected as a part of the royal jewelry.

It is interesting to know that some Indians believed that the diamond should return to that country because it belonged to India.

n the other hand, some other Indians considered the diamond to be a bad omen. Their reason is that all those who somehow took possession of the diamond have been killed or tortured to death.

The historical reasons put forward by the Indians are as follows:

1- Karna, the ancient warrior of India and the first owner of Kouh-e Noor was killed

2- The Raja of India lost his throne.

3- Raja Malwva was dethroned.

4- Mohammad Shah was defeated by Nader Shah, losing Kouh-e Noor and other jewels

5- Nader Shah who brought the Kouh-e Noor to Iran was at last killed.

6- Shah Shoja was first exiled and then killed shortly after he returned to his country.

7- Gorg Singh, who owned the diamond, was forced to eat poison.

8- Regent Singh was shot dead by an arrow during a feast.

9- Dilip Singh was defeated by the Britons and lost its invaluable royal treasure.

Contrary to the Indians, the British believed that the diamond might be a bad omen, if any, only for men and not for women and for this reason they have got the diamond inlaid on the queen’s crown.

Source Zaman; News & Analytical (Monthly) Dec. 1997, No. 19

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