Bejewelled carpet sells for US$5.5 Million

An Indian carpet decorated with pearls and gemstones has sold for US $5.5 million at a Sotheby's auction in Qatar.
An Indian carpet decorated with pearls and gemstones sold for US $5.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Qatar on March 19.
The 173 x 264cm ‘Pearl Carpet of Baroda’ is embroidered with more than 1 million natural ‘Basra’ pearls and glass beads and embellished with over 2000 diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
“The foundation of silk and fine deer hide is densely embroidered overall with a design worked in strings of natural 1-3mm ‘Basra’ pearls and English coloured glass beads,” said Sotheby’s.
“There are on average 78 pearls and beads per vertical decimetre (10cm), and 68 per horizontal decimetre, equalling a density of approximately 4990 pearls and beads per square decimeter.
“The designs worked in the rosettes are set with approximately 2500 table-cut and occasional rose-cut diamonds, approximately 350-400 carats in total, all set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold, (while) the motifs are further enhanced with foil backed rubies, emeralds and sapphires set in gold.”
The carpet was commissioned circa 1865 by Gaekwar Khande Rao, the Maharaja of Baroda, as a gift for the tomb of Mohammed at Medina but the intended gift was never delivered as the Maharaja died before he made the donation and the carpet therefore remained in his family.
Exhibited in 1902-3 as a highlight of the great Delhi Exhibition displaying the wealth of the Maharajas, before it was moved to Monaco with Maharani Sita Devi (the wife of Maharaja Pratapsinh Gaekwad of Baroda).
According to Sotheby’s worldwide director of rugs and carpets Mary Jo Otsea, the carpet is one of the most iconic masterpieces of Indian craftsmanship.
“The exquisite execution, the remarkable state of preservation, the unquestionable rarity, and the highly unusual combination of form and material make this piece undeniably one of the most remarkable objects ever created,” she said.
Sotheby’s did not reveal the identity of the seller in Doha or the name of the winning bidder.
The carpet’s $5.5 million price tag beat the previous highest amount 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 US collector Doris Duke.