The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is considered by many to be one of the finest floor pieces ever crafted.
It derives its name from the Maratha Princely State of Baroda in western India, where Khande Rao II Gaekwad, ruler of the Gaekwar Dynasty, commissioned it between 1856 and 1870.
Khande Rao was a devout Hindu, but was fascinated by the religion of Islam. He ordered the diamond-and-pearl encrusted carpet be hung on the tomb of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Unfortunately, Khande Rao passed away before the carpet could be delivered and, instead, was claimed as the family’s estate property.
Inspiration for the carpet’s design came from several backgrounds, including the Indian Mughal period and Iran’s Safavid period, as well as motif millefleurs.
The carpet runs 2.64 meters long, sits 1.73 meters wide and took close to five years to create.
Three large rosettes carved from 2,520 table- and rose-cut diamonds -- adorned with silvered and blackened gold -- lay in the center. Surrounding the stones are more than 1,000 cabochon rubies, 600 Colombian emeralds and an estimated 1.5 to 2 million natural seed pearls farmed from Bahrain and Qatar.
The Pearl Carpet of Baroda sold for $5.5 million during a Sotheby’s auction in March of 2009.