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The Curse of the Idol’s Eye

24 Jan

The Hope diamond, once the eye of a Hindu god, is the world’s unluckiest gemstone. Suicide, violence and ruin have dogged the footsteps of those who have possessed it. The diamond was purchased by Louis XIV in 1668 from a French trader named Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who is believed to have stolen it from the eye socket of an idol in the temple of Rama-sitra, near Mandalay. Tavernier subsequently went bankrupt, sailed for India to try to recoup his fortune, and died en route. The French king had the diamond cut into the shape of a heart, and it was worn by his mistress, Madame de Montespan, who was also involved in the notorious ‘affair of the poisons’, in which a number of old crones who told fortunes provided poisons for killing off unwanted husbands. Black magic was allegedly involved and, though the scandal was suppressed, Madame de Montespan fell from favour and the old women were tried in secret and later burned. Tavernier and the King’s mistress were by no means the only ones, however, to whom the idol’s eye brought misfortune.

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