One of the world's most famous and historical carpets sold at auction at Sotheby's a couple of days ago for a record breaking $5.5 million to an unknown buyer. This legendary masterpiece is known as the Pearl Carpet of Baroda. It is only 5ft. 8in. by 8ft. 8in. but it is bejewelled with least 1.2-1.5 million natural Basra pearls from the Arabian gulf. The rosettes contain approximately 2,500 table and rose cut diamonds totalling 350-400 carats as well as foil backed rubies, emeralds and sapphires set in gold.

It was commissioned in 1865 by the fabulously wealthy Khande Rao Gaekwar, Maharaja of Baroda in India who was known for his fondness for jewels and who owned some of the most spectacular gemstones in the world including the Brazilian sourced "Star of the South" diamond. The Mughal style carpet design was inspired by another similar carpet from the Taj Mahal in Agra - a bejewelled coverlet woven for the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the woman so beloved by Shah Jahan (see my past post on this Mughal emperor).

The tradition of embellishing carpets with precious metal threads and jewels is ancient. Such carpets were mentioned in old folk tales and stories from the One Thousand and One Nights collection. The carpet was intended to be a gift to the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina but was never delivered due to the Maharaja's untimely death in 1870.

One latter day and very flamboyant Maharani, Sita Devi who "helped" herself to much of the Baroda treasures actually took the pearl carpet to Monaco where she lived her life amongst the rich and famous. The media dubbed her the Indian Wallis Simpson and you can read a little about her and her reportedly catty remark to her contemporary, the Duchess of Windsor in my past post , The Baroda Pearls and Sita Devi -there is a picture of her wearing the fabulous Star of the South diamond necklace.


References & Picture Source
Sotheby' Press Release
Sotheby's : The Pearl Carpet of Baroda
The Beading Gem's Journal

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