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THE BARODA PEARL CANOPY
THE BARODA PEARL CANOPY
THE BARODA PEARL CANOPY
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THE BARODA PEARL CANOPY

BARODA, CIRCA 1865-1870

Details
THE BARODA PEARL CANOPY
BARODA, CIRCA 1865-1870
The cloth embroidered with pearls, colored glass beads, and diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds set in silver and gold, backed
47 ¼ ins. (120 cm.) diam.
Provenance
Commissioned by Maharaja Khanderao Gaekwad of Baroda; thence by descent to Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda
Private Collection, 1985
Sotheby’s, New York, 24 March 2011, lot 105
Literature
Birdwood 1878, p.110
Birdwood 1884, p.3770
Kunz and Stevenson 1908, pp.460-61
Weeden 1911, pp.311-12
Sergeant 1928, pp.91-0
Tottenham 1934, pp.154-55
Welch 1985, pp.437-38
Prior and Adamson 2000, pp.101-02
Jaffer 2013, p.211, no.86
Exhibited
Delhi Exhibition, Delhi 1903, pp.444-469
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2009, pp.163-165, no.138
Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich 2010, pp.164-64, no.138
The Miho Museum, Koka 2016, pp.142-43, no.107
Grand Palais, Paris 2017, pp.276-77, no.207
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 2017, pp.288-89, no.200
The Palace Museum, Beijing 2018, pp.304-05, no. 204

Brought to you by

Rahul Kadakia
Rahul Kadakia International Head of Jewellery

Lot Essay

Composed of approximately 950,000 precious ‘Basra pearls’, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and colored glass beads in elaborate floral arabesques, this exquisite pearl canopy is a true testament to the sophistication and grandeur of the courts of the maharajas. It is one of only two surviving pieces of the renowned five-part suite of carpets commissioned by the maharaja of Baroda, Khande Rao Gaekwad (r. 1856-1870), reputedly intended to adorn the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina. The unparalleled craftsmanship of this canopy bears witness to the flourishing pearl-trade between the Arabian Gulf and India, which reached its golden age in the mid-nineteenth century. At that time, the highest quality pearls were sold in Basra to the Indian elite where they adorned lavish jewelers and textiles, used here in an astonishing quantity.
Even the earliest accounts of this textile stress the striking visual effect of the abundant jewels and pearls. Among them, George Birdwood wrote, around a decade after its production, “when spread out in the sun it seemed suffused with a general iridescent pearly bloom, as grateful to the eyes as were the exquisite forms of its arabesques." (Birdwood, 1884, p.284) The only other surviving piece from this magnificent carpet was acquired by Qatar Museums at Sotheby’s, Doha, 19 March 2009, lot 401.

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