Sunday, 22 March 2009

Indian pearl carpet fetches $5.5 mln at Doha auction

NEW DELHI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- An unidentified buyer bought the famous Indian pearl Baroda carpet, which is regarded as an Indian national heritage, for 5.48 million U.S. dollars at Sotheby's auction in Doha, Qatar, this week, the official website of the auction house said Saturday.

Encrusted with 2.2 million Basra pearls, and weighing 30,000 carats, the Baroda pearl carpet was commissioned in 1865 by BarodaKing Khande Rao Gaekwad, as a gift for the Mausoleum of Prophet Mohammed at Medina.

Until 1947, the year of India's independence, Baroda was a city kingdom located in today's western India state of Gujarat.

The silk carpet also has three large diamond-filled rose designs in silvered gold, besides pearls. The carpet has been a part of the king's family collection.

Another piece of Indian collection by London-based Anish Kapoor, a painted stainless steel sculpture, fetched 974,000 U.S. dollars at the auction this week, said the website.

The Baroda pearl carpet already commanded a price of 5 million U.S. dollars before being auctioned.

This comes weeks after some items belonging to India's modern founding father Mahatma Gandhi were auctioned in New York.

In 1943, the then King of Baroda, Sir Pratap Sinh Gaekwad, married a woman known as Sita Devi, who took up her residence in Europe and soon, most of the Baroda treasures were transferred to her mansions in Monte Carlo in Monaco neighboring southern France.

In 1947, Baroda was merged with India. The Indian government deposed Gaekwad and forced him to return to India some of the most precious items, but the pearl carpet continued to be in the possession of Sita Devi.

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