The image of a large diamond on the front of a turban has been imbedded in my mind for as long as I can remember. I do not know where I got that picture in my mind other than probably from a Hollywood movie. As a kid I also thought most women in India had a red ruby fixed on their foreheads between their eyes. In addition, it seems I had heard about the mysterious Orloff Diamond most of my life. In reality I know very little about the significance of gems within the cultures of southwest Asia and the Indian subcontinent. What little I have learned is the following.
Most, if not all the major religions of the world convey images of gold, pearls, gems and valuable stones to portray things of value and beauty. Things that are inherently pretty to our eyes, and also of value in this world. Not that we as humans exist to acquire these things, which we all desire, but that these items of value can reveal things of even deeper value. Things that may not actually be held in your hand, but in your heart. Things that will enrich our lives while on the earth and hopefully our existence beyond this life. The Jewish writers used images of the gold of Solomon’s Temple to reveal the glory of God. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven by using the image of a very valuable, once in a lifetime, finding of a pearl. The Koran also uses images of pearls to convey truths and the value of eternal life. When I created the board game TreasureTrove I choose to use the following situation card to show the how the Hindu religion uses images of rubies and sapphires.
India for centuries produced some of the world’s largest diamonds. The Orloff Diamond is thought to have once been the eye of a statue in a Hindu Temple. Speaking of Hindu Temples, in the summer of 2011 it was reported in the news that a hoard of treasure was found in a temple in India. Diamonds, gems and gold with a value of over 20 billion. The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram has had within its vaults this treasure trove for hundreds of years, obviously well guarded by the royal family of Travancore. Are those not some cool words? Recent family disputes over the fortune have forced the Indian government to intervene. Now that the vastness of the trove has been realized, the Indian Supreme Court wants to preserve the treasure in a museum.
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