Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Johor Consort Diamond Tiara, Diamond Necklace and Chain

Sultanah Zanariah
One of the oldest royal tiaras in Malaysia is a unique and stylised tiara made of white gold encrusted with diamonds which is in the possession of the Johor royal family and worn exclusively by the Sultan's consort. The tiara is comprised of elements which resemble a starburst motif, though I have also seen it described as a lotus blossom, and even an exploding firework.

Sultanah Khadijah
The tiara is first known to have been worn by Sultanah Khadijah, who was the fourth wife of Sultan Abu Bakar. Born Khadijah Khanum in Istanbul and of Circassian heritage, she married the Sultan in 1893 during his state visit to the Ottoman Empire. She was crowned as the Sultanah of Johor in 1894.
After the death of Abu Bakar, Khadijah re-married and died in Singapore in 1904. The tiara, however, remained in the possession of the Johor royal family.

At some stage during the reign of the next Sultan, Ibrahim, who succeeded Abu Bakar in 1895, the tiara was redesigned into its present form by moving the larger elements to the centre.  A large platinum chain set with 1,450 diamonds and a necklace strung with 671 diamonds of various sizes was added to the tiara forming a parure of sorts. It has been worn by successive Johor Sultanahs ever since.

Sultanah Maimunah  (r. 1895 - 1909) the first wife of Sultan Ibrahim.
Sultanah Rogayah (r. 1920-2926) the second wife of Sultan Ibrahim.
Sultanah Helen (r. 1931-1938) the third wife of Sultan Ibrahim.

Sultanah Maimunah
Sultanah Rogayah
Sultanah Helen

Lady Marcella, left, watching Princess Margaret enter Westminster Abby in 1953
The fourth (and last!) wife of Sultan Ibrahim, Lady Marcella Ibrahim, wore the tiara, chain and necklace to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. She herself was later crowned as Sultanah of Johor, taking the name Fawzia, in 1955. You can get a good look at the necklace and chain in the video of her own coronation ceremony here:

Sultanah Aminah (r. 1959-1977) the first wife of Sultan Ismail.
Sultanah Nora (r.1978-1981) the third wife of Sultan Ismail.
Sultana Zanariah (r.1981-2010) the second wife of Sultan Iskandar, was the last known wearer of the tiara, chain and necklace.

Sultanah Aminah
Sultanah Nora
Sultanah Zanariah

The tiara has not been seen since Tunku Puan Zanariah wore it during her tenure as Sultanah of Johor.

As far as I am aware, Raja Zarith Sofiah has never worn either the tiara or the necklace. Perhaps she has been waiting until after she was crowned to do so? Will she bust it out of the vaults for the forthcoming coronation? One can only hope.

I do suspect, however, that the larger chain has been dismantled at some stage to create a tiara which is frequently worn by Raja Zarith Sofiah. If you compare the design of the chain and necklace on the picture below of on her coronation day to the tiara worn by Raja Zarith Sofiah you can see they are very similar.

Sultanah Fawiza (note: she is wearing the regal diadem, not the tiara)
Raja Zarith Sofiah

I do hope we see the tiara and necklace (and chain?) in the future. It is a unique and interesting design, and very different to other tiaras which makes it something special. While it can look somewhat comical at time, particularly when worn without significant tiara hair, it has a great deal of historical provenance.

What do you think? Is this tiara for you or too different for your tastes?

Update: 23.03.2015
Well, Raja Zarith Sofiah, the newly crowned Permaisuri (Queen) of Johor did not let us down. Not only did she wear the full chain and necklace, she also wore the sapphire and diamond bracelets:

The newly crowned Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim, and Permaisuri Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah.  

I should have included information about those in this original post. The bracelets were added to the crown jewels  by Sultan Ibrahim (the First) in 1935, to be worn by the consort at her coronation. Each bracelet has four cushion shape fine blue sapphires (70 carats), four oblong diamonds each weighing 5 carats, and a plethora of other diamonds and brilliants. 

You can also see Sultan Fawiza wearing the bracelet in the photo above, and Sultanah Helen wearing them below:
Sultanah Helen in her coronation robes, wearing the tiara, chain, necklace and bracelets. 
I also now suspect that my theory regarding the chain being broken up to create the new tiara is incorrect. The coronation ceremony has provided some very good pictures of it to compare, and there are some differences. In any case, it is good to see the chain and necklace being worn again. I wonder if we will see the tiara put to use in the future as well?

Update: 25.03.2015
Guess who wore the tiara to the Royal Banquet to celebrate the coronation in Johor?

The newly crowned Permaisuri Johor, that's who! And doesn't she look good? Thank you Raja Zarith Sofiah, and congratulations on the coronation. 

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