The spectacular ''Pearl Carpet of Baroda'', India - 15 fascinating facts about the costliest carpet in the world

Pearl carpet of Baroda.

 It  is not a figment  of our imagination  to talk about the opulence and extraordinarily stylish life of  the Indian Maharajahs of the princely states  during the colonial period, not withstanding  the fact that much of their wealth, treasures and land  had been surreptitiously  taken away by the East India company' s corrupt officials  and later (after 1858)  by the Crown administration, London. A case in point is Kohinoor diamond and Timor ruby (actually Spinel), the latter being the largest in the world. 

Timur Ruby

 Above image:The big stone id Timur ruby- 352.5 ct  set by Garrards into a necklace for Queen Victoria 1853. The Koh-i-nûr diamond could occasionally take the place of the Timur Ruby. Owned by the ruler of Punjab;  when the British annexed the Punjab in 1849, they took possession of the Timur ruby and the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last son of Maharajah Ranjit Singh.......

Having lost much of every thing they had  owned, their pursuit of   the most expensive  cars like Rolls Royce (many owned  3 or more), jewels, gemstones, etc.,  never stopped and continued unabated. Among them, the rulers of Baroda - the Gaekwad Dynasty would always acquire the best- be they jewels or cars or residences, etc. Ruler  Khande Rao Gaekwad's  the Baroda Pearl necklace with 320 to 350 pearls, and  three-tiered diamond necklace, with  the cushion-cut "Star of the South" diamond and the pear-shaped "English Dresden" diamond below it, as the centerpiece of the necklace come to our mind and they have acclaimed international name. The creation of Pearl carpet- the most expensive one in the world  is a proof of  their imagination, obsession for gemstones and fabulous wealth. With  highly skilled and experienced jewelry craftsmen, well trained in many catchy designs such as the Hindu or   Mughal traditions  at their disposal, they could go after well designed jewelry, etc.,  to suite their taste and royal status.   The Pearl carpet made by the ruler of Baroda  which now has a different owner, still carries the legacy of the erstwhile Gaekwad  Dynasty  of the Princely state of Baroda, India. 

The Pearl carpet of Baroda, Gujarat, India pinrest com.

Laxmi vilas palace, Baroda  Maharajah's residence. pinrest com.

The following are the fascinating facts about the Baroda Pearl Carpet. 

01. As of to day the Baroda Pearl carpet  specially commissioned by Maharajah Khande Rao Gaekwad of the princely state of Baroda (Vadodara), now in Gujarat  is the most expensive one in the world. The ruler  was a well-known connoisseurs and collectors of jewels and jewelry in the history 

02. The jeweled carpet was meant to adore the tomb of prophet Mohamed (sal) in Medina, Saudi Arabia. 

Pearl carpet of Baroda, India. pinrest com.

03. Though commissioned in 1865 by the ruler,  the extraordinarily talented jewelers and artisans of Baroda took five long years (work began in 1860) to complete the work as it was a complicated undertaking - eye-catching design work, careful setting of pearls and precious gems including hundreds of diamonds, etc., in the right place along with colored glass beads and gold filling between gaps. A blot of one or two in some places would mar the entire work that needed proper selection of pearls, etc., planning, cutting of stones in desired shape, etc. A time-consuming work that needed  highly talented  and skilled persons to do the job.

04. Maharajah's sudden demise in 1870 created unwanted confusion in the royal family for some time His  brother Malharrao  Gaekwad  became the nest ruler, but was later deposed by the British; the pearl carpet remained with the ruling family and never sent to Medina. 

various state flags, Baroda .

.05.  The pearl carpet  was  on public display for the first time  between 1902-03   at the Delhi Durbar hosted by  Viceroy Lord Curzon  to welcome King George V and his queen ,the Empress of India. in 1903,  The then owner was   Sita Devi, the queen  of the royal family who took it with her to Monaco in 1946.

06. The pearl carpet   was sold for about  $5.46 million at an auction in Doha, Qatar -March 2009 . A detailed  information on the Pearl Carpet of Baroda displayed at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha.   An anonymous buyer bought it and  became  a part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of Qatar.

07. The pearl carpet is said to measure approximately 5'8" x 8'8" and was valued at Rs 6,000,000 140 years ago (by current exchange rate ~$120,000 USD in 1865) according to India media reports,  

08. The carpet was in public view for the second time in 1985  it was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. 

Baroda Maharajah,

09. That the  Pearl Carpet of Baroda has an estimated 1.5 million Basra pearl points out  the on-going flourishing pearl trade that had existed in the past between the Indian subcontinent and the Persian Gulf. In the by-gone era the other sources of pearls  on the international market were  the Red Sea and the Gulf of  Mannar (between Sri Lanka and Peninsular India). In the latter, harvesting of pearls from oysters does exist  now, but on a low key level. 

10. The natural seed  Basra' pearl (known for size, luster  and quality)  used in the carpet  were harvested in the southern Gulf region and along the coasts of Qatar and  Bahrain. These were the breeding places of oysters that were the sources of high quality pearls The pearl markets of Basra,  Bombay and London were active in those days. having international contact. 

11. The total area of the carpet is c.45,670cm.2 - enough room to bring out an inspiring design making room for the three large diamond filled rosettes (c.440cm2) and   32 smaller rosettes; the total area embroidered with pearls and beads is about 44,500cm2   

12. The carpet design is  said  to be based  on the design of  those prevalent  during  the Safavid period of Iran and the Mughal period of India.

13.  The carpet has over 2.2 million pearls and beads decorating the field. the; total estimated weight of the pearls is 30,000 carat; .the rosettes are set with approximately 2,500  table cut and occasional rose cut diamonds, roughly 350-400 carats in total. All set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold; The carpet  is made of superior quality  diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies,

14. The highly embellished rectangular-shaped pearl carpet has a length of 2.64 meters (8 ft. 8 ins) and a width of 1.73 meters (5ft. 8 ins.), and is made of a combination of silk and deer hide. The carpet is closely  embroidered, with  colored glass beads ( to highlight the design) , and the spaces filled entirely with an estimated 1.5 to 2.0 million natural seed pearls. - "Basra Pearls".

15. Its  price $5.46 million (2009 auction, Doha) beat the previous highest price paid for a carpet or rug: $4.5 million in June, 2008 at Christie’s International, New York, for a 17th-century Persian silk Isfahan rug that had belonged to the U.S. collector Doris Duke.