Valley of Diamonds

The 'Valley of Diamonds'

Legends have always surrounded diamonds, yet it seems strange that Alexander the Great should feature in one of them, considering he was in India for less than two years. The well-known story has changed greatly in the re-telling, but one of the best-known appears as a tale of 'Sindbad the Sailor' in the 'Arabian Nights'. 

This version, apparently written 1,000 years later, cannot therefore be taken too seriously: 'Other than my pupil Alexander, no one has ever reached the valley where the diamonds are found. It lies in the East, along the great border of Khurasan, and it is so deep that a human eye cannot see to the bottom. 

When Alexander reached the valley, a multitude of serpents prevented him going farther, for their glance proved mortal to men. So he resorted to the use of mirrors; the serpents were caught by the reflection of their own eyes and so perished.' 'Alexander then adopted another ruse. Sheep were slaughtered, then flayed, and their flesh cast into the depths. 

Birds of prey from the neighbouring mountains swooped down and carried off in their claws the flesh, to which countless diamonds adhered. Alexander's warriors hunted the birds, which dropped their booty, and the men merely had to gather it where it fell.' But the legend does have an interesting history. It seems to have originated in Asia Minor during the first century BC and was taken to China. 

After being related by Arab and Persians traders, it finally reached Europe for the western world to get its first diamond knowledge. Some might almost think a publicist had been at work, while it has also been suggested that the legend was deliberately encouraged by merchants in Golconda. They wanted to disguise the real source of the diamonds in the river-beds nearby.

 

All historical texts above from: Een Streling Voor Het Oog, Antwerpen 1997

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