The Maharajah of Baroda exemplified the princely state of mind. His court tunic was spun of gold, with only one family in his state allowed to weave its threads. The family's fingernails were grown long and then notched like the teeth of a comb, all the better to caress the golden threads to perfection. Among his most precious treasures were a collection of tapestries made entirely of pearls, into which were woven ornate designs of rubies and emeralds.
Jaipur's maharajah lorded over one of the largest and richest of India's princely states. Somewhere in the Jaigarh fort, on a peak above the palace, the private treasure of the Jaipur princes lay buried, guarded by an especially belligerent Rajput tribe, the Minas. Once per lifetime, each maharajah was allowed to visit the treasure and select a single item. Man Singh chose from the private treasure a bird of solid gold studded with rubies of extraordinary fire, so heavy that a woman could hardly lift it. Unfortunately, independence came before the last maharajah, Jai Singh, could choose. Even so, he did not do without. His jewels included a triple-stringed necklace of red spinels, the stones having been contributed by various Mughal emperors, each bigger than a pigeon's egg, along with three huge emeralds, the largest of which weighed 490 ct. Among the world's greatest polo players, Jai Singh died in appropriate form, atop his polo pony, one of the three richest men in England.
None of the Indian princes amassed greater treasure than the Nizams of Hyderabad. Presiding over one of the largest states (half the size of France), their dominion included Golconda, in former times the world's diamond center. They were the first to enter into alliance with the British, but later became indebted, thus allowing the British to gobble up Berar, a valuable part of their domain. For support during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the British wrote off that debt and awarded the Nizam the Order of the Star of India. Berar, however, remained in British hands, causing the Nizam to remark, "Generosity is uppermost in the minds of my British allies, even though their mathematics are a trifle weak.