Qajar (Kadjar) Crown Jewels


The saga of the crown jewels of Persia and how they came to be the backbone of the Persian treasury is not one for the faint hearted. As with all great treasures in history, intrigues, rivalries, and wars accompanied their journey. They were brought to Persia by Nader Shah Afshar, the conqueror of Delhi. After being in the treasury of Mohammad Hassan Khan Qajar, they ended up in the hands of Lotf Ali Khan Zand, and after him with the last Afshar, Shahrokh. When Aqa Mohammad Khan had set his mind on the treasure, it was secured from the old Afshar by force of torture. Once in Qajar hands, however, the treasure remained in Persia, and thanks to their sense of duty and honor, was transformed into the backbone of the treasury and currency of the country. It was the Qajar shahs who ordered the precise accounting of every piece in the treasury, and, often through such ingeneous devices as the jewelled globe (see picture gallery below), or the engraving of their names on the actual gems (as in the case of the Darya-ye-Noor and Fath Ali Shah's name), were able to ensure that no gem disappear from the treasury without its disappearance being immediately manifest to all. It was because of them that not a single gem was removed from the patrimony of their country, and it is no exaggeration to say that without them, Persia and later Iran, would not have benefitted from the ownership of this fabulous treasure.

Here is a selection from this fabled collection, which at one point reputedly contained two of the most famous diamonds in the world, the Kooh-e-Noor (Mountain of Light) and its companion the Darya-e Noor (Sea of Light). As to the Kooh-e Noor, it is now part of the British Royal treasure (its journey there is related in two accounts found in the bibliography below). The Darya-ye Noor is still in the Iranian collection. The collection was added to under the Pahlavis, who contributed among other things, the Pahlavi crowns and other assorted pieces. The collection remains one of the wonders of the world, easily rivalling that of other royal houses, notably that of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and British crown jewels.

* For your tour of the Crown Jewels of the Qajars (Kadjars) [narrated in Persian from a clip by Jadid Online,] click here.

* To read a short account of the Kooh-e-Noor and Darya-ye-Noor diamonds, click here.


Selected bibliography:

Iradj Amini, L' Inde du Koh-i-Noor, François Bourin, Paris, 1992.
Soltan Ali Mirza Kadjar, Les Rois Oubliés, Edition No1/Kian, Paris, 1992.
Emineh Pakravan, Agha Mohammad Ghadjar, Nouvelles Editions Debresse, Paris, 1963.
Safiyeh Sheibani, "The Story of Kouh-e Noor and Daryay-e Noor Diamonds", in Zaman [Time]; News & Analytical (Monthly), Dec. 1997, No. 19.


Back to Table of Contents