Diamond Cuts Diamond (Indian Folktale)

diamond cuts diamondIn this Indian a man travels to a far off land to his fortune. He is successful and decides to return home. As he nears home, a ‘friendly’ merchant tells him that there are many thieves on the road ahead. He leaves his riches in the care of the merchant, and travels on to bring back help. When he returns, the merchant tries to cheat him. To get his riches back, he needs the help of someone who is an even bigger cheat.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Elementary level Simplified English story which are not in our 800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

This is one of two folktales we have published with the title Diamond Cuts Diamond. The stories come from different countries and have very different s, which have nothing to do with s. However, , which is an English , is an appropriate title in both cases. The first written record of the proverb was in the 1604 John Marston play The Malcontent:

Take Maquerelle with ; for ’tis found none cuts a diamond but a diamond.

In 1693 it also appeared in the William Congreve play The Double Dealer:

And must be ed by wit; cut a diamond with a diamond.

In this story, the merchant is cheated out of his box of jewels by Beeka Mull. When Kooshy Ram hears this, he laughs and cries: Why, he is the greatest cheat in the city. Unless of course you believe what some of them say about me!. At the end of the story, Kooshy Ram proves to be a match for Beeka Mull and tricks him into returning the merchant’s jewels.

To read our other story with this title (from Thailand), click here.

olive fairy bookOur source for Diamond Cuts Diamond was The Olive Fairy Book, one of a series of twelve collections of folk and fairy tales for children edited by Andrew Lang. This is the eleventh book in the series, and was first published in 1907. It can be downloaded as an e-book from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here. Lang wrote that this is a Punjabi story from a of Ferozepur in India. Although we have classified it as Indian, it may well be Pakistani in origin as the original Punjab region covered parts of both countries.


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folktale(n: folktale pl folktales) A story that is part of the traditions of a group of people and was handed down in spoken form before books and printing. 9000

seek(v: seek, seeks, sought, seeking) 1. To try to find someone or something. The prince is seeking a wife. 2. To try to get something. She sought help form a neighbor. 3. To make an attempt to do something; to try. The builders sought to make the bridge stronger. 2000

adventure(n: adventure pl adventures) An exciting and sometimes dangerous experience. He wrote a book about his adventures during the war.
(n: adventure, noncount) Excitement or danger. I set out across the country looking for adventure. 3000

bowing(v: bow, bows, bowed, bowing) To bend the upper part of the body forwards in greeting someone or showing respect etc. 3000

cheat(v: cheat, cheats, cheated, cheating) 1. To break a rule or law, usually to gain an advantage at something. She was caught cheating in a test. 2. To take something from someone by lying or breaking a rule. He cheated his brother out of his share of their parents money. 3000

curtain(n: curtain pl curtains) A piece of cloth or other material that is hung down to cover a window or protect or hide something. 2000

fool(n: fool pl fools) A person who does not have a good sense or judgment; a stupid or silly person.
(v: fool, fools, fooled, fooling) 1. To speak or act in a playful way. Stop fooling about! 2. To trick or deceive. She fooled me with her story. 2000

goods(n: goods, plural) Products that are made or grown in order to be sold; things for sale. 2000

guard(n: guard pl guards) 1. A person whose job or duty is to watch and protect someone or something. 2. Someone whose job is to prevent someone else from escaping.
(v: guard, guards, guarded, guarding) 1. To protect [(someone or something]) from danger or attack. 2. To watch [someone] in order to prevent escape. 2000

honest(adj: honest) Good and truthful; not lying, stealing, or cheating.
(adv: honestly) In an honest way. He gained his wealth honestly.
(n: honesty, noncount) The quality of being honest. She is admired for her honesty. 1000

honor(n: honor pl honors; British honour) 1. Respect given to someone or something that is admired. We fight for the honor of our country. 2. Something [such as a title or medal] that is given to a person as a sign of respect. He has received many honors for his research into cancer. 3. The quality of being honest. He is a man of honor. 2000

jewel(n: jewel pl jewels) A precious stone (such as a diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire) that has been cut and polished.
(n: jewels, plural) An ornament or pieces of jewelry containing a precious stone or stones. She loved dressing up in her jewels.
(adj: jeweled or jewelled) Covered in jewels. 3000

lock(n: lock pl locks) 1. A device that keeps something [such as a door, window, or box] from being opened and that is usually opened by using a key. 2. A length or curl of hair; a tress. She cut off a lock of his hair.
(v: lock, locks, locked, locking) To fasten something with a lock or in some other way so that it cannot be opened. 1000

luck(n: luck, noncount) The things that happen when they are not planned or controlled by people; the state of happening by chance.
(adj: lucky, luckier, luckiest) 1. Used to describe someone who has good luck. 2. Used to describe someone or something that brings or causes good luck. 1000

merchant(n: merchant pl merchants) A trader, especially one who buys goods from producers in large amounts and sells them to other sellers in smaller amounts. 3000

of course(adv: of course) 1. Used to say yes to a question or that something is true in a way that shows you are very certain about it. "May I borrow this book?" "Of course!" 2. Used to show that what is being said is very obvious or already generally known. She was late and rude, so of course she didn't get the job.

pain(n: pain pl pains) The physical feeling caused by sickness, injury, or mental or emotional hurt. He felt a sharp pain in his back. It caused him pain to talk about his wife's death.)
(adj: painful; painless) Causing pain. A painful injury.; Without pain. Painless childbirth. 2000

palanquin(n: palanquin pl palanquins) [in India and the East] A means of transport for one person, consisting of a large box with a bed or chair inside, carried on two horizontal poles by four or six men.

servant(n: servant pl servants) Someone who is hired to do household or personal duties [such as cleaning and cooking]. 1000

signal(n: signal pl signals) 1. Something [such as a sound, a movement of part of the body, or an object] that gives information about something or that tells someone to do something. They communicated with each other by using hand signals. 2. A message, sound, or image that is carried by waves of light or sound. The phone signal is not very strong here. 2000

thief(n: thief pl thieves) Someone who takes (something) from the owner in a way that is wrong or against the law; a robber. The thief got away with all my money. (ขโมย) 3000

trick(n: trick pl tricks) 1. A clever or skillful action to entertain or amuse people. (มายากล) 2. Something which is done, said etc in order to cheat or deceive someone. (เล่ห์เหลี่ยม) 2000

trust(v: trust, trusts, trusted, trusting) To believe that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc; to have confidence or faith in (someone or something).
(n: trust, noncount) Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. 1000

worry(v: worry, worries, worried, worrying) To think about problems or fears; to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen. If am not home on time, my parents start to worry. His poor health worries me. (วิตกกังวล) 1000

(n: plot pl plots) The series of events that form the story in a movie, novel, play, etc. 3000

diamond(n: diamond pl diamonds) A very hard, usually colorless, precious stone; used especially in expensive jewelry. 4000

(proverb: Diamond cuts Diamond) Diamond is the hardest substance known, and can only be cut by another diamond. The phrase is used to describe a situation where two opponents who are an equal match in wit, cunning, or strong-mindedness meet. It has been used several times in literature to suggest that, in the same way that a diamond can only be cut by another diamond, the only match for a clever or cunning person is someone who is equally clever or cunning.

(n: proverb pl proverbs) An old but well-known saying that either gives advice about how people should live, or expresses an idea that is generally thought to be true. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A rolling stone gathers no moss. 6000

(pronoun: thee) An old word for 'you', used only when addressing one person as the object of a verb or preposition. I wed thee with this ring. Take some money with thee. (คุณ, เธอ [คำโบราณ])

witty(n: wits pl wits) 1. The ability to think or reason and make good decisions. (ความมีไหวพริบ) 2. The ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny (แสดงความตลกขบขัน) or a person who is known for doing this. He's a great wit. (ผู้มีเชาว์ปัญญา)
(adj: witty, wittier, wittiest) Clever and amusing. (ซึ่งใช้คำพูดอย่างมีไหวพริบ) 4000

foil(n: foil, noncount) A very thin, light sheet of metal. She covered the dish with aluminum foil.
(v: foil, foils, foiled, foiling) To prevent someone from doing or achieving something. Police foiled the bank robbery. 7000

To my surprise, I was unable to find any background information on this "Major Campbell" on the Internet. There were at least two Majors with the surname Campbell serving in the Punjab during Lang's lifetime: a Major R. B. Campbell (in the late 1870s), and a Major Fred Campbell (in the late 1890s). However, neither of these seems to have any literary connections. I suspect that "Campbell" is the nom de plume (pen-name) of a serious folklore collector who did not want to have his name associated with children's "Fairy Books". The source was obviously deeply interested in the culture of the region, and fluent enough in Pashto to have translated several stories from that language. My best guess is that it was Sir Richard Carnac Temple who had served in the Punjab as part of the 1st Gurkha Regiment in 1879. Five years later, Temple released the book 'Legends of the Panjab' and contributed to another (Tales of the Punjab Told by the People) by Flora Annie Steel. "Major Campbell" stories did not appear until Lang's 9th book (the Brown Fairy Book), which was published in 1904. Coincidentally, this is the same year that Temple retired from the army and returned to live in England. Any comments or alternative views from readers would be greatly appreciated.

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