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history of gemstones - 6

Pliny the Elder wrote that quartz was congealed ice. Sex hundred years later, Sir John Madeville stated that a diamond was formed when two large ones, a male and female came together in the hills where the gold lay, and that it grew larger in the dew of a may morning.

The ancient Hindus believed that diamonds owned their origin to bolts of lightning strikes rocks. Even in those times, there were those who thought beyond the supernatural and examined the gems themselves to realise that they were products of the earth just like silver, gold, copper, and metals. However Suramantri Agastya, a sage of Vedic times who wrote exhaustively on gemstones, said that they originated from the bones of Daitya Bala or Dadhichi, a demon endowed with freat strenght who went to heaven to conquer Indra, the king of gods. The gods then slaughtered him in a battle and so he attained salvation. According to this legend as quoted in Ratnapriksha, the classic text on gems.

"There was a powerful king of the Danavas named Bala, endowed with great strength and who proved his valor by conquering the three worlds.

In more than one battle, Divaspati was vanquished by him, and the wife of heros, sachi, was not able to raise her nead with pride. The gods could not defeat this indomitable warrior in open combat; sop they requested him, in the guise of a favor, to become the victim of their sacrifice.

The powerful Bala exceeded the highest serenity of great souls; in the pride of his courage he replied Yes to the gods. Firm in his resolve and asking for nothing in the face of the agony that extinguished his life giving breath, he was tied to a stake by thirteen strings, like an animal; be was bound by his own word.

His birth beign pure and so pure deed, that the remains after the flames, the bones of his body, became the seeds of gems and had the power of gods in them. Gods, Yakshas, Siddhas, Serpents, made a greate plundering of these seeds of precious stones. In heir hasty fight through the clear sky they dropped some peices and everywhere in the pieces fell.

In the sea, the rivers, the mountains, the forests, this seed by its inconcievable weight became the resting place. Diamonds are formed from his bones, pearls from his teeth, ruby from his blood emeralds from his bile, sapphire from his eyes, beryl from his fluids, chrysoberyl from his marrow, catseye from his fingernails, crystal from his fat, coral from his flesh, topaz from his skin and moonstones from his semen."

Buddhabatta, a buddhist monk of the late fifth century AD and author of the first complete text on gemology amended this story to write that it was Vela with his sapphire blue eyes and topaz like skin who led the gods sacrifice his body which became gemstones. The Devas, Yakshas, Siddhas and Nagas rushed to grab these gems and in the melee, some stones fell to earth. Ravana attaked the Sun as he aws running away with Vela's blood, and during the fight, a few drops fell in to the Ravanaganga, a river in Sri Lanka and became rubies. According to Pheru, a Swetambara Jain who was born around 1270 AD, the powerful demon Bala went to heaven to battle Indra, but there he was persuaded to become the beast in the Gods sacrifice. The slaughtered parts of his body became gemstones. Diamonds are formed from his bones, pearls from his teeth, ruby from his blood emeralds from his bile, sapphire from his eyes, beryl from his fluids, chrysoberyl from his marrow, catseye from his fingernails, crystal from his fat, coral from his flesh, topaz from his skin and moonstones from his semen. The nine planets seized these gems as they fell to earth. The sun took the ruby and the moon, the pearl. Mars got caral and Mercury emerald. Topaz was given to Jupiter, Venus took the diamond and Saturn got the sapphire while Rahu obtained zircon and Ketu got the beryl. Later these stones slipped from the hands of the planets and sank deep into the earth.

Ancient Sanskrit works such as the Mahabarata, Ramayana, Sukraniti, Suruta Ratnapariska, the Kamasutra of Vatsayana, Bribatsambita, Agnipurana, Garudapurana and the Yuktikalpataru discussed gemstones properties and usage in everyday life. According to them, good gems were flawless. pure and cause prosperity. Flawed stones destroyed money, sons and property and even one bad gem in a collection destroyed the luster and efficiency of the good ones.

The tests also refer to various sites where diamonds were found. The Arthabastra of Kautilya refer to Himalaya, Surat in Gujrat, Venwa in Maharashtra, Venaganga or Saubira in the Punjab, Kalinga in Orissa, Kosala in Ayodhya, Matanga in the Deccan and Paunda in Burdwan as areas where diamonds were found. According to him the best diamonds were available in south India, particularly at Kaveripattinam, a center foe the gemstones at the mouth of the river Cauvery. A book on travel and trade written by a Roman merchant of the first century AD, The Periplus, talks of buying diamonds from India. The second century AD Tamil classic Silapaddikaram describes the diamond market in Madurai where ruby and sapphire from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and south India, pearls from Mannar (Sri Lanka) and rubies from Burma were traded. Merchants from Rome, Egypt and Greece setup offices there as evidence by the finds of Roman coins in that area.

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