Made for Maharajahs: the pearl carpet of Baroda

pearls and other precious stones encrusted carpet of the Maharajah of Baroda India

The most incredible carpet ever created by human hand is the famous Pearl Carpet of Baroda. It gets its name from the Maratha Princely State of Baroda, one of the four Princely States of the Maratha Confederacy, that was ruled by the Gaekwar dynasty since 1740. The carpet was made in 1865 and it took embroiderers and jewelers more than three years to create this masterpiece. The then Maharajah of Baroda, Gaekwar Khande Rao, ordered the carpet to fulfill his vow to cover the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina.

Made for Maharajahs: pearl carpet

This arabesque tapestry is believed to be the most wonderful piece of embroidery ever known. The centre is open, blossomy flower studded with soft gold, mounted with rosette of diamonds. Jewelled palms and flowers sprang from delicate stems and around it are crescents of iridiscent seed pearls, cabochon rubies, sapphires, emeralds and lasque diamonds. Overall  2.2 million gemstone beads have been used to decorate the silk and fine deer hide foundation of the carpet. Of them at least 1.2-1.5 million are seed pearls and that is why the carpet is referred to as the "Pearl Carpet".

The Maharajah died before the gift could be sent to Medina and his successors did not feel compelled to carry out his wishes and instead kept kept the carpet as a family treasure.It was eventually moved from India to Monaco with the Maharani Sita Devi in 1946. After her death in the mid-1980s, the carpet was sold to a private buyer and has remained with that family until 2009 when it was sold for 5.5 millions $ at the Sotheby's auction.

Maharani Sita Devi in Paris with the Pearl Carpet being seen on the background

The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an extraordinary work of art that is a true testament to the wealth, sophistication, and grandeur of the legendary courts of the maharajahs as well as an extant example of the fabled riches of India. 

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