News-Antique.com - Mar 13,2013 - SINGAPORE – Discovering and learning about remote Asian cultures has long been a passion of Jaina Mishra’s. An award-winning photographer and travelogue writer, Mishra has spent the past 10 years reverently documenting what she describes as “vanishing cultures.” While immersing herself in the decade-long odyssey that took her to faraway mountains and valleys that few tourists visit, Mishra also collected tribal textiles, jewelry and folk art objects she felt were special. And although she never previously attempted to make her living from the sale of Asian cultural art, Mishra, an MBA whose fascination with distant places and people dates back to her childhood in India, is now taking that logical next step. She will share her remarkable finds with the rest of the world in an April 6 online-only auction conducted through LiveAuctioneers.com.
Mishra chose the business name Wovensouls because her collection began with textiles and later expanded to include other artforms. “Textiles are the woven expression of the soul of a tribe, so the name appealed to me,” she explained.
Before formally launching her business, Mishra tested the commercial waters by selling a few pieces privately. Then, at the end of 2012, came an important breakthrough. Mishra sold a piece to one of the world’s most prestigious museums. That particular sale was a validation to Mishra that she had achieved the level of sophistication required to identify and deal in top-quality Asian cultural art.
“It made me think, ‘If a top-class museum is buying from me, then the only thing standing in the way of Wovensouls becoming a successful venture is my own lack of effort.’ Up until that time, I wasn’t really sure if my eye was good enough. I had always bought using my eye and instinct, and only once had I bought an item solely because of its provenance or because someone else said it was good,” Mishra said.
All of the pieces offered in the April 6 auction are from Mishra’s 10-year personal collection and nearly all were obtained firsthand during her travels. The carefully assembled auction selection includes jewelry, hand-painted art objects, manuscripts and, of course, textiles. The cultures represented are largely Tibetan and Ladakh (an Indian culture influenced by Tibet), with the addition of pieces from Borneo (Dayak), India and the Golden Triangle of northern Thailand, South Vietnam and Laos. The latter region is home to the Yao and Attapeu Hilltribe peoples.
The collection also includes art from the Indian Gujarat culture. “Gujarat art is very beautiful and, I believe, undervalued,” said Mishra. “Some of the Gujarat people are descended from Romany gypsies. Their art is unique and deserves further research.”
Among the most impressive items in the sale are three decorative antique peraks, or headdresses, from the Himalayas. Peraks – which can weigh as much as 29 lbs. each – are usually passed down from mother to daughter until there is a generation with no female child. In such cases, the perak is donated to a monastery after a ceremony and subsequently