358 THE DIAMOND MINES OF BENGAL
diamonds.1 Here he evidently quotes from Tavernier, as also did Buffon,2 who calls the locality Soonelpour on the Gouil, which Buchanan Hamilton in 1838 3
refers to as being probably identical with a diamond mine which he had
heard of on the southern Koel. Karl Ritter in 1836 detected the
incompatibility of Taverniere statements as to the position of his
Soumelpour with that of Sambalpur on the Mahânadî ; but his correction
did not serve to mitigate the confusion which is to be found even in
the most recent authors upon the subject. I may add that I was pointed
out on the map a locality on the Sânkh by a resident in Chota Nägpur,
where local tradition asserts that diamonds used to be found.
referred above to Sambalpur in the Central Provinces it may be of
interest to add that this Indian Province includes another locality
which, though of importance in early times, was so forgotten even a
century ago, that Rennell, and after him Karl Ritter, altogether failed
to identify it. It was mentioned as being in the country conquered by
Ahmad Shah Walî Bahmanï, both by Garcia de Orta and Ferishta. In the Äln-i-Akbarl the
locality is spoken of as at Bairagarh, which is now identified with
Wairâgarh in the Chânda District, about 80 miles from Nägpur. It was
probably the Kosala of the Chinese pilgrims and perhaps the Kosa of
is just possible that a locality mentioned by Nicolò Conti in the
fifteenth century as a diamond mine called Albenigaras may have also
been Wairâgarh. He mentions that the diamonds were obtained then by
means of pieces of meat, which were flung on to the mountain, where the
diamonds could not be collected owing to the number of serpents. The
pieces of meat with diamonds sticking to them were then carried to
their nests by birds of prey, from whence they were recovered by the
diamond seekers.5 This, with variations, is the story told
by Marco Polo, and in the travels of Sindbad the Sailor. Elsewhere I
have described the probable origin of this myth. It appears to be
founded on the very common practice in India, on the opening of a mine,
to offer up cattle to propitiate the evil spirits who are supposed to
guard treasures—these being represented by the serpents in the myth. At
such sacrifices in India, birds of prey invari-
1 View of Hindoostan, ii. 113.
ä Hist. Nat., Minéraux, Paris, 1786, iv. 280.
3 Montgomery Martin, Eastern India, i. Ö35.
4 McCrindle (op. cit., p.
158 f.) fixes Kosa in the neighbourhood of Baital, north of the sources
of the Täpti and Varadâ, a tributary of the Tungabhadrâ [op. cit., 179).
* R. H. Major, Travels of Nicolò Conti, India in the Fifteenth Century Hakluyt Society, part ii, 29 f.