Quotes Jewels

March 3rd to 9th


‘First are two flawed sapphires – one of two ruttees and one of four, as I should judge. The four ruttee sapphire is chipped at the edge. There is one Turkestan turquoise, plain with black veins, and there are two inscribed – one with a Name of God in gilt… Four flawed emeralds there are, but one is drilled in two places, and one is a little carven…there is one ruby of Burma, of two ruttees, without a flaw, and there is a balas-ruby, flawed, of two ruttees…’


This is from Chapter IX of Kim.

As part of his training for ‘The Great Game’ Kim has been sent up to Simla to spend the holidays with Lurgan Sahib, master jeweller, master of disguises, and spy-master. Here, in what later became known as ‘Kim’s Game’, Lurgan’s young Indian assistant is matching his skills of observation against Kim, by memorising the contents of a tray of jewels after a few moments scrutiny.

‘It blazed with the dull red of the ruby, the angry green of the emerald, the cold blue of the sapphire and the white, hot glory of the diamond. But dulling all these glories was the superb radiance of one gem that lay above the great carved emerald on the central clasp. It was the black diamond – black as the pitch of the infernal lake, and lighted from below with the fires of hell.’


This is from Chapter XIV of The Naulahka, which Kipling wrote jointly with Wolcott Balestier.

It describes the moment when Tarvin first sets his eyes on Maharaj Kunwar’s great jewel, which he dreams of possessing. .

If ever you come across a little, silver, ruby-studded box, seven-eighths of an inch long by three-quarters wide, with a dark brown wooden fish, wrapped in gold cloth, inside it, keep it. Keep it for three years, and then you will discover for yourself whether my story is true or false.


This is from “The Bisara of Pooree”(1887) collected in Plain Tales from the Hills.

The Bisara of Pooree is a tiny eyeless fish, carved from a nut, inside a little jewelled silver box. If stolen, it is a powerful love charm. If it is not stolen, it turns against its owner within three years and brings ruin and death. Captain ‘Grubby’ Pack, a ‘nasty little man’, is infatuated with the attractive Miss Hollis, who spurns him. He overhears a conversation in the Club about the Bisara and steals it. Miss Hollis promptly falls in love with Pack and accepts him, but when the owner steals the charm back, she rejects him again. The owner, seeing the power of the Bisara, takes swift steps to get rid of it.

Dr. Tompkins in The Art of Rudyard Kipling p.233, calls this “a knowing little tale, unsympathetically told”.