The Kohinoor, ‘Mountain of Light‘, is often thought to be the largest diamond in the world, but in fact it’s not even in the top 90. Yet, somehow it’s become one of the most celebrated, mythologised and coveted diamonds in history. “To keep away myth from actual fact is the reason why William and I came together and wrote this book,” says Anita Anand, co-author with William Dalrymple of Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond, the first comprehensive account of the stone’s history.
The writers will be talking about their collaboration at an evening hosted by The Citizen’s Foundation – an organisation which runs a network of schools for poor children across Pakistan – on Monday evening. Details are at the end of the post.
The book itself is split into two parts. Dalrymple deals with the Kohinoor’s earlier history (‘The Jewel in the Throne’), while Anand takes on its more recent past (‘The Jewel in the Crown’). It’s a tale of greed, torture and murder featuring dead or maddened kings, sacrificed queens, slaughtered commoners, and devastated cities and provinces. Journeying through South and Central Asian history, the book charts the diamond’s bloody trail through India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran before it finally reaches England. It’s no wonder the gem is widely believed to be cursed – the last monarch ever to wear it was Queen Victoria.
Today, the Kohinoor rests, controversially, in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, locked in the Tower of London. Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran and even Oman have all laid claim for custody. On whether it should be reclaimed by India, Dalrymple says: “It is an interesting, intellectual question, because it leads to the wider issue of what to do with the loot of colonialism. Should there be reparations or should you just say that history is full of violence and injustice? Should the English file a lawsuit against the Italians for the Roman Empire? Do we charge Norway for the Vikings? Should Sri Lanka file a suit against the Tamil Nadu government for the Chola raids? I don’t know the answers.”
What does the future hold for this diamond, charged with so much history and symbolism? Come and join the conversation!
When: Monday 17th July 2017, 7pm
Where: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Tickets: £15 (+ £1.85 booking fee)
More info and to book: An Evening with William Dalrymple and Anita Anand – Eventbrite page
By Anjali Khanna.
Posted on 15 July 2017