The Pearl Carpet of Baroda sold this early afternoon EST, March 19, for a World Record $5,458,500.00 USD including buyer premium (Auction at Sotheby's Doha Qatar). This amount exceeds the previous World Record by one million dollars for a Safavid rug in a 2008 Christies sale of the Doris Duke Isfahan.
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SOLD BY SOTHEBY'S Doha
It is a once-in-a-lifetime event that an example of magnitude such as the pearl carpet of Baroda becomes available for public acquisition. Its historical importance, provenance, and material make the Pearl Carpet the epitome of everything a serious collector, government or museum would want:
Timeless motif and colors, wide horizontal interest in the market, mystique, exclusivity, manageable size, documentation and above all, completeness.
The carpet was originally intended to be a gift to the Tomb of Mohammed in Medina. The inspiration for this rug and the intention as a gift for the tomb may have stemmed from Shah Jahan's earlier example of commissioning a bejeweled covering for the monument of Mumtaz within the Taj Mahal.
The Maharaja Khande Rao of Baroda commissioned the piece in the 1860's. Of particular significance - A gift to the tomb by a Hindu would represent not only the splendor of the Maharaja style, but an expression of deep respect for the Islamic religion. Ultimately, due to the death of the Maharaja, the carpet never went to Mecca.
Similar examples of rugs incorporating precious metals and stones have been noted by historians. One, in particular, is the Persian Carpet called "The Spring of Khosrow" from 6th century AD. This too featured precious metals and stones. Measuring considerably larger than the Baroda carpet, legend has it the carpet was cut up into many pieces after an Arab invasion and sold off by soldiers piece by piece.
The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is among the crème of the crop. What is spectacular to us is the very construction, and the clear respect for the unique shape of each of the millions of pearls, stones, sapphires and rubies. Working with differing shapes and sizes, the final result leaves few gaps. The Creators clearly worked around characteristics of each stone and pearl: just one facet of how the rug works in complete harmony. To attain such a regular and symmetrical rug from varying gauge pearls takes both unbelievable workmanship & complex mathematical understanding. As with all carpets, The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
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*We were unable to find the Rupees to USD exchange rate in 1865. The exchange rate we used is based on current exchange rates as of 2/24/09.