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Past Event

Saturday University: The Dragon and the Pearl

Feb 15 2020

Asian Art Museum

Emma Baillargeon Stimson Auditorium

10 AM – 11:30 AM

The Dragon and the Pearl: Explorations of a Eurasian Motif

Joel Walker / University of Washington

The art and literature of medieval Eurasia abound with stories of precious jewels guarded by monstrous serpents or dragons. This presentation will investigate iterations of this motif in the Syrian Christian tradition, including a famous stele from the Tang-dynasty capital of Xi'an in northern China and a silver reliquary fragment from Roman Syria. Taken together, these artworks reveal the powerful symbolism of pearls as markers of spiritual excellence.

About the Presenter

Joel Walker is the Lawrence J. Roseman Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington, where he also holds affiliate appointments in Classics, Comparative Religion, and Near Eastern Studies. A historian of the Ancient World and the early medieval Middle East, Professor Walker is a leading expert on the history of the East Syrian Christian communities of Mesopotamia, Iran, and Central Asia.

He has also been deeply involved in Silk Road Studies, including several previous collaborations with the Seattle Art Museum.

Please note: This event takes place at the Asian Art Museum. Live streaming of the lecture is available on a first-come-first-serve basis in the Alvord Board Room.


Sat Feb 1

Rarities Fit for Kings: Ephemeral and Tangible Precious Goods in Sultanate India

Sat Feb 8

Woodwork and the Arts of Japan

Sat Feb 15

The Dragon and the Pearl: Explorations of a Eurasian Motif

Sat Feb 22

The Strange Case of the Castaway Princess and Other Stories of Japan in the Pacific

Sat Feb 29

Out of the Dark: Banned Books in China

Sat Mar 7

Marvelous Journey of Precious Objects: Chaekgeori, Korean Still-Life Painting


Full series tickets: $62; SAM members $42
Individual lecture tickets available at the door: $11, SAM members $7; free at the door for students with ID
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Image: Dragon medallion, China, 16th century, silk and metallic-thread tapestry (kesi), 15 x 15 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.