Basra Pearl Canopy of Baroda

Basra Pearl Canopy of Baroda

When you think of maharajas, images of opulence and grandeur inevitably spring to mind. Few objects better exemplify this over-the-top lavishness than a 19th-century pearl-embroidered canopy from Baroda.

Commissioned by the Maharaja of Baroda, Khande Rao Gaekwar, in the mid-19th century, the circular canopy is studded with around 500,000 pearls. And not just any pearls, but fine Basra pearls, found naturally in the Persian Gulf. It doesn’t end there: The canopy is embellished with sapphires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds too. The gems are embroidered throughout the concentric floral patterns of the canopy, which measures around 1.2 meters in diameter.

The canopy will be auctioned March 24 at Sotheby’s in New York , where it’s expected to fetch up to $5 million. It’s being billed as one of the highlights of the auction, which focuses on Indian and Southeast Asian works of art.

But it’s not just the bejeweled canopy’s pearls and gems that are likely to make it appealing for buyers–it’s also the story behind it, said Mary Jo Otsea, head of Sotheby’s carpet department.

The other piece in the set, the “Pearl Carpet of Baroda,” sold for around $5.5 million in Doha in 2009.

More about Basra pearl canopy of Baroda.

Buy Basra (Persian Gulf) pearls here.

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