I’d Like My Diamonds Rare, Please

There was a mountainous place in the forgotten Kingdom of Mutfili, also known as Kakatiya (modern: Golkonda, Hyderabad, India) beset with a great many deep-set crevasses, inside of which grew an overabundance of diamonds.

As related by Marco Polo at the end of the 13th century and many other tale-tellers dating back into antiquity, it was the peculiar practice among the residents of this realm to fetch these diamonds through the most ingenious of methods. The mountain’s crevasses were rocky and inaccessible, fraught with snakes and loomed over by aggressive white eagles in the sky above. So, to procure the diamonds from these perilous depths, the locals would take raw meat, still pink and sticky – wet was the flesh – and toss them down the rocky crags. Upon landing at the bottom, the meat would become stuck with diamonds – so rife with crystals was, and still is, the area (some of the most valuable gems in the world come from this area even still today). Then, the eagles would descend from their airy abode to swoop up that meat. The people would then either shew away the eagles and take away their catch or later venture up to the eagles’ nests and excavate the undigested diamonds from their excrement.

Thus, diamonds used to be plucked from the cleavage of nature’s mighty bosom to be then beset in jewelry and placed upon woman’s bosom.

Source: Ibn, Batuta, and Tim Mackintosh-Smith. The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador, 2002.

Illumination, Paris, studio of the Boucicaut Master, c. 1412. Ms. fr. 2810, fol. 82 recto. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.
Credit: Boucicaut Master, c. 1412 / Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

Categories: Medieval

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