Baroda Carpet of Pearls up for Auction

Kunz & Stevenson, in their famous pearl book, published in 1908, wrote this about the Baroda Carpet of pearls. They were a little off in their measurements, but even one hundred years ago it was valued to be worth several million dollars.

Baroda pearl carpet
Pearl Carpet

Auction date: March 19, 2009
Auction place: Doha, Qatar

The Baroda carpet of pearls, which closely resembles the tippet at Tehran described by Brydge. This carpet is said to be ten and one half feet long by six feet wide, and to be made up of strings of pearls, except that a border, eleven inches wide, and also center ornaments, are worked out in diamonds. Some writers assert that this costly ornament was originally intended by the late Mahratta Khandarao as a covering for the tomb of Mohammed. Others state that it was designed as a present for a woman of whom he was enamoured, but that the British resident interfered, claiming that the wealth of Baroda was not sufficient to warrant such an expensive gift on the part of the ruler. This ornament is now retained among the regalia at Baroda, and is probably the most costly pearl ornament in the world, its value being estimated at several million dollars.

MEASUREMENTS FOR BARODA CARPET

approximately 173 by 264cm., 5ft. 8in. by 8ft. 8in.

DESCRIPTION

circa 1865

The foundation of silk and fine deer hide is densely embroidered overall with a design worked in strings of natural 'Basra' pearls, measuring approximately 1-3mm, and English coloured glass beads. There are on average 78 pearls and beads per vertical dm. (10cm.), and 68 per horizontal dm., equalling a density of c.4,990 pearls and beads per dm2, The total area of the carpet is c.45,670cm.2 Making allowance for the three large diamond filled rosettes (c.440cm2), the 32 smaller rosettes (c.400cm2), and the smaller gems the total area embroidered with pearls and beads is about 44,500cm2 Therefore, over 2.2 million pearls and beads have been used to decorate the field. In our estimation, the number of pearls employed in the design is therefore at least 1.2-1.5 million. The rosettes are circled by small natural 'Basra' pearls of slightly larger size, measuring approximately 3-4 mm; the total estimated weight of the pearls is 30,000 carats. The designs worked in the rosettes are set with approximately 2,500 table cut and occasional rose cut diamonds, approximately 350-400 carats in total, all set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold; the motifs are further enhanced with foil backed rubies, emeralds and sapphires set in gold.

PROVENANCE

The Maharaja of Baroda, Gaekwar Khande Rao

by descent to

The Maharani of Baroda, Sita Devi

Seethadevi Holding until 1988

This carpet sold for $5.5M.

See more details about the carpet and auction at the Sotheby's website.
Read about Baroda pearl strands here after Baroda carpet.
Learn about more famous pearls here.


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