If India is a woman’s body, her arms outstretched to hold her billion babies, Kashmir is the unruly forelock above her right temple. Or at least, that’s what I thought as a child, when my Nanaji took out his historical maps, pre-Partition and post- , to show me how we had been carved up. Since then, since the internet, I’ve zoomed in on that northwestern border countless times, tracing my fingers over the mess of dotted lines that vaguely indicate where I was born. If you log in from Pakistan, the Kashmir region is labeled as disputed. From India, it is solid line, appearing firmly under Indian control. 

In July 2013, after more than forty years of collecting textiles, I came across something that I had never seen before: a small paper label pasted inside a sample booklet that once belonged to a Calcutta fabric merchant. The brightly colored picture of a man and woman riding a white bull captivated me. What was the story behind it? Where had it been printed? And who were the two Indian figures it depicted—a blue man with a snake wound around his neck and the lady he so tenderly held? Charmed by its stylized simplicity and intriguing image, the collector in me began a quest that, thousands of labels later, continues to beckon.

The first diplomatic mission from Brazil to China took place from 1879-1882; it also included Brazil’s first circumnavigation of the globe (sailing east in this case). An account—Primeira circum-navegação brasileira e primeira missão do Brasil à China (1879) by Marli Cristina Scomazzon and Jeff Franco—has recently been published. This excerpt about the delegation’s stop-over in Hong Kong and Macau has been translated from the original Portuguese and is published with permission.

Since the English edition of this book first came into my possession, it seemed obvious to me that it should be published in Spanish. Fortunately, after some frustrated attempts, the ever-ready publisher Siruela saw fit to take it on. It is a small book and, therefore, doubly interesting, and not only because of what Baltasar Gracián summed up with the sparkling phrase: “Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno” (“what is good, if brief, is good twice over”). There is another factor, or perhaps two, to take into account. The first is that La Plata y el Pacífico illuminates an essential chapter of universal history, that is, the first stage of economic globalization along the axis of the Pacific via the Manila Galleon or Nao de China, an episode largely unknown to the wider public, whether of English-, Spanish- or Chinese-speaking backgrounds.

A young woman, unfamiliar with the city or its cinematic culture, has come to a film studio to return a coat that had been lent to her during a rainstorm. She is holding the coat and a card she found in the coat—on it is the name of a film director. The young woman steps through the studio doorway straight into the film set and is walking a deserted alleyway with lit windows. Silence.

Maung Shwe Yon was a highly acclaimed 19th-century master silversmith from Rangoon. Harry L Tilly, the aforementioned British expert on Burmese art, was effusive in his praise for Maung Shwe Yon. He described one of his pierced bowls as ‘the best example of this kind of work ever produced’ in his 1902 monograph, The Silverwork of Burma.