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B.2 Ch. 14: Establishing a New East Indian Commercial Company

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42
TAVERNIER'S PRECURSORS          book ii
I am about to give descriptions, and at one of the two rivers whence diamonds are obtained, and I have encountered there neither the difficulties nor the barbarities with which those imperfectly acquainted with the country had sought to terrify me. Thus I am able to claim that I have cleared the way for others, and that I am the first European who has opened the route for the Franks 1 to these mines, which
seem to be—1, the Penner River, below Gandikota, probably in the neighbourhood of Chenur (see vol. i, 230); and 2, the river he did not visit, which was in Borneo (see p. 359 below).
1 Tavernier was not aware that he had been preceded by other European visitors to the mines, e. g. Csesar Fredericke and Methold (see p. 56 n.), and, as stated in the previous note, he was probably mistaken as to these being the only mines in India which were known in his time ; besides many in Southern India, those at Panna in Bundelkhand, Sambalpur on the Mahanadi, and Wairagarh—the Bairagarh of the Aln-i-Akbari (ii. 230)—were almost certainly open then. We have, too, evidence of the working of a mine by a European at an earlier date. A paper presented by the Earl Marshal of England to the Royal Society {Phil. Trans., vol. xii, 1677, p. 907) states that about the commencement of the seventeenth century (say 1610) a Portuguese gentleman went to Currure, i.e. Wajra Kariir in the Bellary District, and expended a large sum of money, namely 100,000 pagodas or £45,000 in searching for diamonds without success. He then sold everything he had with him, even to his clothes, and on the last day when he could pay the wages of the workmen he had prepared a cup of poison which he intended to take that night if no diamonds were found. In the evening a fine stone of 26 pagodas' weight was brought to him by the workmen. The figures given in the paper indicate a value of 53 troy grains for the pagoda ; at that rate 26 pagodas would be equal to 1,378 troy grains, or 434.7 carats. The recognized equivalent of the pagoda is something less, namely 52.56 troy grains (Kelly, Universal Cambist). In the same mine, we are told, diamonds of a seize (? ser) weight, namely 9 ounces troy, or 81 1/2 pagodas, i. e. 1362.6 carats, had been found ; and as Mir Jumla took possession of this mine, together with the Carnatic, one cannot help suggesting that it may have been here that the Great Mogul's diamond was found, although Kollur is particularly mentioned by Tavernier as the mine which produced it. To return to the above-mentioned Portuguese, he took the stone with him to Goa, and to commemorate its discovery put up a stone tablet, on which the following lines were engraved in the Telugu language:—
' Your wife and children sell, sell what you have, Spare not your clothes, nay, make yourself a slave, But money get, then to Currure make haste, There search the mines, a prize you'll find at last.' For further information regarding the early history of diamond mining in India see Watt, Economic Dictionary, iii. 93 ft.
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