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As described by Sir George Birdwood, a connoisseur of Indian jewelry, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda is the most extravagant carpet ever made in the history of mankind. It was made on orders given by the then Maharaja of Khande Rao Gaekwar of Baroda, A Maratha princely state.
The Pearl Carpet of Baroda was completed in 1865 and was meant to fulfill a vow that Maharaja Khande Rao had made to cover the tomb of the Prophet of Islam, in Medina.
It is referred as 'Pearl Carpet' mainly because over one million pearls dominate the carpet, even though there were other larger and more expensive gems incorporated such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
It took five years to complete the carpet with over a hundred of Maharaja's court artisans actively involved in the making.
The foundation of the carpet is 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.
The carpet has three large diamond filled rosettes and 32 smaller rosettes.
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.
The Baroda Pearl Carpet was sold for $5.5 million on march 19, 2009 in an auction.