46 PAY OF DIAMOND MINERS book π
having, so to speak, a kind of knot,1
such as is seen in wood, the Indian diamond-cutters would not hesitate
to cut such a stone, although our diamond-cutters in Europe would
experience great difficulty in doing so, and as a general rule would be
unwilling to undertake it ; but the Indians are paid something extra
for their trouble.
come to the government at the mines. Business is conducted with
freedom and fidelity. Two per cent, on all purchases is paid to the
King, who receives also a royalty from the merchants for permission to
mine. These merchants having prospected with the aid of the miners, who
know the spots where the diamonds are to be found, take an area of
about 200 paces in circumference, where they employ fifty miners, and
sometimes a hundred if they wish the work to proceed rapidly. From the
day they commence mining till they finish the merchants pay a duty of 2
pagodas 2 per diem for fifty men, and 4 pagodas when they employ a hundred men.
These poor people only earn 3 pagodas3
per annum, although they must be men who thoroughly understand their
work. As their wages are so small they do not show any scruple, when
searching the sand, in concealing a stone for themselves when they can,
and being naked, save for a small cloth which covers their private
parts, they adroitly contrive to swallow it.4 The chief of all the merchants who embark in mining
Certain points of a stone are often found to be exceptionally hard, as,
for instance, when a facet is cut on the angle where two cleavage
planes meet, or, so to speak, across the grain of the stone. (See p. 44
n.) A difficulty of this nature is mentioned by Messrs. Garrard
as having been experienced when the Koh-i-Nür was reçut. (See Professor
Ten-nant's lecture On Gems and Precious Stones, Society of Arts, 1852, p. 86.)
2 Say 16s.
3 Equal to about one rupee or 27 pence per mensem, or less than a penny a day. The rupee is now (1922) worth about 1*. id. In some remote parts of India labour can still be obtained at about that rate, or from 3 pice to an anna, i.e. 1 1/2d. to 1 1/2d. ; but wages have greatly increased in recent years.
4 Owing to the belief which exists in India that diamond dust is a poison (Tod, Annals of Bajasthan, ii. 1074 ; Âîn-i-Akbarï, i.
510 note) it is thought by some persons that native miners would not
swallow diamonds. I have seen several authentic records of their having
done so ; Garcia da Ortâ, (Simples and Drugs of India, 343) for instance,