Asian collectors rediscovering their roots are expected to be among the big buyers at New York auctions this week highlighting ancient and modern works from Asia.

Christie’s leads Asian Art Week, which takes place in March and this month, with 1,200 lots from India to Japan auctioning at an estimated collective price tag of between $46 and $65 million.

Rival auction house Sotheby’s follows suit with pre-sale estimates of $21.9 to $31.2 million for 738 lots, while more than a dozen city galleries are hosting exhibitions and sales of their own.

Hugo Weihe, head of Christie’s Indian and southeast Asian art, said the modern and contemporary auction on Wednesday was expected to raise more than $10 million, with works by big-name artists including Francis Newton Souza and TV Santhosh.

“We see increased interest in India now for the antiquities, which of course has happened in Chinese art,” said Mr Weihe. Indians – similar to the rich Chinese actively buying their nation’s treasures back from Western collectors – are expected to be a big force.

“Once any economy gets strong, literally you buy into your heritage,” Mr Weihe said. “China is doing that in a very strong way. We were very surprised, ‘why hasn’t India done that more?’ Well now we’re seeing very strong signs.”

Parallel to the sales, Christie’s is hosting an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art co-organized by a branch of the Chinese culture ministry.

The “Trans-Realism” collection of 29 works by 17 artists offers a modern view of Chinese art far from the typical delicate, pre-communist ceramics or even socialist realism – although with nods to both, plus a twist of European influence.

“The range of (Chinese) art works represented in the international market is still very limited. We’d like to bring more Chinese art to the international audience,” said Pan Qing, a curator from the National Museum of China.

Christie’s auctions run till to­morrow. The Sotheby’s sale also takes place tomorrow.

Other exhibitions at New York art dealers include Literati Musing: Inscriptions on Chinese Paintings, Buddhist Lives, and Flights of Fancy, a collec­tion of porcelain contemporary masterworks from Japan.

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