|British Imperial State Crown with the largest Burmese Ruby|
which has a horrible curse & historical Burmese name "Nga Mouk".
Native miners were allowed by Burmese kings to mine at Mogoke but any rubies over a certain size and weight had to be given to the king. It’s said that some larger stones were broken up so they could be sold rather than turned over. This is illustrated by the centuries-old Mogoke legend of Daw Nan Kyi and cursed Burmese ruby named "Nga-Mouk".
According to the legend, a miner named Nga-Mouk found an amazingly large ruby about 400 Ratti or nearly 360 Carats. Instead of giving the entire stone to the king, he broke it in half and gave the slightly larger half to the king, for which he was rewarded handsomely. He sold the other half to a Chinese merchant.
Later, a Chinese prince requesting protection from the king presented the ruby as a gift to his court. Upon examination, the Burmese king (most probably the King Bodaw-Phayar reigned from 1782 to 1819) felt that something about it looked familiar. When he compared the newly gifted ruby to the one the miner had presented, he saw that they fit together perfectly and realized he had been cheated.
The king had the miner and his family burned alive right in the Mogoke Village. His wife, Daw Nan Kyi, witnessed this from a hill where she was collecting wood. She then died from a broken heart—broken in half like the ruby. The Mogoke hill where she died is still called Daw Nan Kyi Hill (or Daw Nany Kyi Taung in Burmese).
|From Daw Nan Kyi Hill in today Mogoke.|
The Burmese king then showed the Nga Mauk ruby to the Frenchman, asking him how much he would estimate its value to be. The Frenchman, who had never seen such a beautiful gem, said that it would be impossible to assign a value to such an exceptional gem. The Burmese King replied: If you cannot give me an estimate for that stone, how do you expect me to give you an estimate for the mine that produced it?
The Frenchman was speechless and departed. Later, the British learned of the French interest in Mogok and Upper Burma, and feared that the French would take over the region and control access to China. Backed by a consortium of London-based gem merchants, they planned an invasion of Burma with one of its main objectives being control of Mogok and its ruby mines.
In 1885 King Thebaw, by his contumacy and his atrocious massacres of his nearly 200 half-brothers and sisters, made the invasion and annexation of Upper Burma inevitable. In 1886, the British succeeded in taking over Upper Burma by overwhelming force of British Indian Army led by General Prendergast.
The invasion proper known as “Third Anglo-Burmese War” in November 1885 lasted barely a month and King Thibaw and his family were exiled to Ratnagiri in Western India and he died there broken-hearted in 1916. His body has been lying there till today since then.
But what happened to all the royal jewels including the famous Royal Ruby “Nga-Mouk” which all disappeared since Colonel Edward Sladen, the Political Officer of invading British Indian Army, allegedly took them on the day King Thibaw and his family were taken to India from Mandalay by a British gun-boat?
Colonel Edward Sladen The Political Officer, British Invading Army
After seeing action in the Second Anglo-Burmese war at Pegu in December 1852 and again in January 1853, he became an assistant commissioner in Tenasserim (the Tanintharyi Region) and was severely wounded in 1856-57 while fighting insurgent Karens and Shans in the Yunzalin District. He then moved back to mainland India and joined in the recapture of Lucknow from mutinous Indian soldiers in March 1858. He also took part in the Oudh campaign with Sir James Hope Grant and Sir Alfred Hastings Horsford.
Colonel Sir Edward Sladen then fought in the 2nd Burma War (1852-1853). He then joined the Indian staff corps after the Madras fusiliers became a queen's regiment. In 1866 he was made British chief commissioner in Mandalay.
Sladen's political role in Mandalay Palace meant that by the time of the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-1886) he was well-known and almost intimate to King Thibaw (1858-1916) and his three wives. In 1885 Colonel Sladen was chief political officer with the British invading force sent to depose the King.
Burmese people have been long accusing him of acquiring priceless Burmese Royal jewels by deceiving King Thibaw and later stealing all the treasures including that priceless enormous Royal Ruby called “Nga-Mouk” which has been on the British Imperial State Crown since Col Sladen presented it to the Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in 1886. For that he was rewarded with Knighthood and became known as Sir Edward Sladen of Burma.
|Colonel Sladen and his British troops capturing King Thibaw in Mandalay (1885).|
Burma’s Royal Ruby On British Crown (Padamyar Nga-Mouk)
This article was written in 1985, one hundred years after King Thibaw and Queen Supayar Latt were taken to India by the British. Burma was well-known for its wealth in gold, gems and other natural resources. So in the king's treasury there were plenty of jewels, gold, silver, gems and many more.
Among these precious treasures, Padamyar (ruby) Nga-Mouk the Royal Ruby was the most famous treasure. Most of the gem merchants and the British colonists were always eager to see the ruby and its beauty. There was no such ruby like the Nga-Mauk, as spotless as the one in history. So, let's see what really happened to the Royal Ruby.
It was 29 November 1885. The King, the Queen and other royal servants were to be taken to India. In the chamber of the Queen Supayar Latt, all her royal servants and maids were busy packing much of the royal accessories and jewelleries. Although everyone was busy packing, the frowns on their faces were clear.
The maids were packing different royal accessories in lacquer boxes, teak boxes and gold boxes as necessary. The King and the Queen were sitting and looking around with very little hope for their future.
At the time, Col Sladen from the British Army was going from one chamber to another and checking and checking. Finally, he reached the chamber where the King and the Queen were residing. Col Sladen was also telling the maids and servants to take everything the majesties would need and he went out.
Soon again he came back to the chamber, and requested the Queen to show him the precious Padamyar Nga-Mouk with hands folded as if paying respect. Then Queen Supayar Latt told the maid of chamber, Chuntaung Princess named Thu Thiri Sandar Wadi, who was incharge of these treasures to show Col Sladen the valuable ruby.
Chuntaung Princess took out the ruby from one of the cases in the golden box and gave it to Col. Sladen. The large ruby was among many of the royal jewels. Col Sladen stared at the priceless precious stone from all the sides, again in the sunlight and looked at it again and again in many positions.
Col Sladen then showed it to one of the British soldiers who was with him, in amazement. He took out his handkerchief to wipe out his eager sweats. Suddenly, he flipped in his handkerchief together with the royal treasure. The Chuntaung Princess kept looking at him very carefully, not to make any mistakes. She left the golden box open and sat right next to it, and kept watching at Col Sladen. The Queen knew about this event but waited for sometimes until he returns the royal ruby.
And after sometimes, the Queen asked the princess why she was not packing up the golden box and what she was waiting for. The princess pointed at Col Sladen and said that the royal ruby was not returned yet.
Then, Col Sladen acted as if he was astonished and immediately returned the stone to the princess. Chuntaung Princess took back the royal jewel very carefully and places it in one of the cases inside the golden box, and locked it.
When the sunset in the evening, the King, the Queen and the total of seven royal family together with maids and servants went to Gawwin Port for departure to India. Then they went onto the Thuriya Ship at the port. That day, they were taken away from their own land.
Many people came to the port to pay respect to their king and queen for the last time. Among the crowd, there was a man called Prince Maung Maung Tin, who was the brother of Chuntaung Princess. He tried to come near the royal family but he was pushed away from the crowd by armed Indian soldiers. So the crowd was in chaos. The royal family on the ship saw the incident but knew nothing about what was going on.
There came a great opportunity for Col Sladen to have the jewels, especially the Nga-Mouk. Immediately, he went to the majesties and told them that there were some robbers trying to rob the royal family. He then requested for the treasure boxes to be kept with him for security. The king and queen had no other choice, so they gave him the royal treasure box to him.
He also went to Queen mother Sin Phyu Ma Shin and Supayar Gyi, the queen's sister, telling them the same event. But they told him that they had very little treasure with them and gave nothing to him.
|Exile of Burma's last king Thibaw from Mandalay (1885).|
After being sent to Yadanargiri, King Thibaw wrote a letter to the British Indian government and asked back for the Royal treasury that was taken by Col. Sladen. But there was no action taken about that letter. The king did not give up and tried for another three times resulting with an answer that Col. Sladen went back to England.
In the mean time in Myanmar, there were Burmese rebel groups fighting for freedom, including Prince Maung Maung Tin. King Thibaw never gave up on retrieving his treasures. Actually, King Thibaw was never a prisoner, he lived in a palace like house which cost more than six lakhs of Indian Rupees at that time. There were a total of nearly 200 servants. The annual support was about one lakh of Indian Rupees, with beautiful horse carts for transportation. But the royal family was not allowed to go to any other district without any permission. The royal family was always under surveillance.
In 1911, King George V was crowned as King of England. After being crowned, the King came to his colony to New Delhi, India. King Thibaw took this chance and sent five copies of his letter about his treasures to King George V. But the only letter that returned was that Col. Sladen was dead.
This news turned out to be true. Col Sladen took the treasures from King Thibaw in 1885, and he was granted the title 'Sir' for his performance. In 1887, he retired and went back to England. Then he died in 1890.
King Thibaw tried again and again but it was clear that the British were never in the interest of returning back the treasures to the owner. British ruled over Myanmar for a long time and things changed. Prince Maung Maung Tin stopped fighting as a rebel leader, and became an administrative officer. On the other hand he wrote the History of Konbaung Era. His sisters the Chuntaung Princess and Taungzin Princess came back to Mandalay from Ratnagiri and settled down.
The news of the Royal Ruby “Nga-Mouk” was heard that Col. Sladen offered it to the Queen Vitoria. When King George V came to India in 1911, U Maung Maung Tin became the Town-Chief of Kyaukse in Middle Burma. Some official representatives from British Burma were invited to the Ceremony for King George V in India. U Tun Min from Kyaukse, a close friend of U Maung Maung Tin, was invited too.
When he came back to Kyaukse, he brought back some brochures, booklets and postcards. In one of the postcards was the colour photo of the Royal Crown of the King and the Queen of England. The postcard was very clear, and the large red stone embedded in the crown were supposed to be very precious and rare. Also it was described as Burmese Ruby.
U Maung Maung Tin, suddenly remembered about the Padamyar Ngamauk. So he asked his sister the Chuntaung Princess who lived in Mandalay then to come and see him. Chuntaung Princess, who was the keeper of the Padamyar Nga-Mouk, looked at the ruby in the postcard. It has been nearly 26 years she had not seen the royal ruby, but because of its natural beauty, the Princess who was the long-time keeper of Royal Jewels immediately recognized it as the lost Padamyar Nga-Mouk.
(As time passes quickly almost everything was forgotten but these facts were given by Daw Ma Ma Gyi whose husband U Chan Thar went to study in England. In England, he went to the Tower of London museum. He saw the crowns of the late kings and queens and together with the lost Royal Ruby “Nga-Mouk”.)
|Wholesale auction of British loots from the Mandalay Royal Palace (1885).|
|Letter concerning lost Royal Ruby Nga-Mouk from King Thibaw's Second Princess Daughter.|
|Four princess daughters of King Thibaw.|
The Imperial State Crown (1937) is worn by the Queen Elizebath II at each State Opening of Parliament. Even though it is one of the youngest crowns in the collection, it holds a number of much older gems and jewels. The crown was remade in 1937 after the previous frame weakened under the weight of the gemstones.
Right on the very prominent front of the famous crown is the so-called Black Prince’s Ruby in the colour of deep-red like the colour of a well-sought-after Pigeon-Blood-Ruby. The Black Prince's Ruby - in fact a large spinel - was traditionally thought to have been the ruby given to Edward, Prince of Wales (1330-76), son of Edward III, and known as the Black Prince, by Don Pedro, King of Castile, after the Battle of Najera near Vittoria in 1367.
The stone, which measures 170 carats, is of Eastern origin and has been drilled in the past for use as a pendant. According to legend it passed to Spain in about 1366, where Don Pedro took it from the Moorish king of Granada. In 1415 it was one of the stones worn by Henry V in his helmet, at the Battle of Agincourt.
The spinel is one of the oldest parts of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, with a history dating back to the middle of the 14th century. It has been in the possession of England's rulers since it was given in 1367 to its namesake, Edward of Woodstock (the "Black Prince"). In 1820, the gemstone was valued at £10,000 (equivalent to £720,885 as of 2015).
All red gemstones used to be referred to as rubies. It wasn't until 1783 that spinels were differentiated from rubies. The two gemstones can be distinguished on the basis of their chemical properties: a red spinel is a compound of magnesia, iron and chromium, while a ruby is a type of aluminium oxide. The rarity of this spinel, however, is that it is the biggest uncut spinel in the world, given that it has only been polished slightly, and has never received a proper cut, gemologically speaking.
Burmese Royal Ruby Nga-Mouk also was uncut too and very similar to the size of the so-called Black Prince’s Ruby on the crown (nearly 180 Carats or 200 Ratti). The red stone could be the lost “Nga-Mouk” ruby from the golden box full of priceless royal jewels taken away and later stolen by Colonel Edward Sladen in 1885 the year our last King Thibaw was unceremoniously taken away to India like a caught-animal.
|King Mindon (1808-78) showing his nearly 180 Carats Nga-Mouk Royal Ruby to a French Envoy.|
According to an age-old legend of Mogoke, Daw Nan Kyi the wife of executed miner Nga-Mouk had left a long lasting curse on the legendary ruby bearing her dead husband's name. As she lied dying horribly on the hill that still bears her name, after witnessing her husband and bunch of her children being burned alive as Burmese king's punishment, she cursed that anyone wearing the jewellery with Nga-Mouk Ruby should suffer horribly as her family had suffered.
Most people in Burma still believe that King Thibaw the Burmese king was the very first one to bear the brunt of Daw Nan Kyi's curse as he lost his throne, nation, and wealth including Nga-Mouk Ruby to the British invaders in 1885. British Colonel Sladen who stole the Nga-Mouk suddenly died on 4 January 1890 of a mysterious blood-vomiting illness. If those were the case of horrible "Nga-Mouk" curse how about the British royals holding the stolen stone since 1885?
Yes they did suffer too and the proof is the untimely death of King George V's son King George VI who was born a stammering invalid and eventually died of blood-vomiting strange disease at a very young age for an English monarch. Believe it or not, King George VI was only the second English king to wear the newly-reminted British Imperial State Crown with stolen "Nga-Mouk" Ruby mounted prominently on the front of the crown.
|And King George VI's daughter Queen Elizebath II has been wearing the same crown since 1952.|
Related posts at following links:
British Seizure of Burma's Ruby Mines (1886)