The Jewel of the Desert

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DUNHUANG, CAVE 428: Central pillar with Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by disciples and bodhisattvas. The ceiling is adorned with floral motifs and the walls with preaching scenes and Thousand Buddha images. Northern Zhou Dynasty (439-534).

The Jewel of the Desert

The Dunhuang Caves and the Silk Road’s Hidden Library

On the edge of China’s Taklamakan Desert are a series of hand-carved and painted Buddhist grottoes. They contain a gallery of Buddhist art spanning more than 1000 years.

The sacred caves had long been abandoned when, early last century, a hidden grotto was uncovered that contained an unparalleled record of life along the Silk Road. Filled with paper scrolls, silk paintings and other artefacts, the greatest treasure was the world’s oldest illustrated and printed book, the Diamond Sutra of 868 CE.

Joyce will look at the art of the caves and the remarkable discovery that has transformed our understanding of the Silk Road.

Joyce Morgan is an author and journalist. Her book Journeys on the Silk Road was published internationally. She has lectured widely on the Silk Road, including for the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Museum of Australia and the Rubin Museum in New York. She is a former arts editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and has written on arts and culture for more than three decades. She is a Getty arts journalism fellow and Huntington library fellow. Joyce has worked in Sydney, London, Hong Kong, Pakistan and East Timor. Her biography of artist Martin Sharp was longlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize. Her most recent book is The Countess from Kirribilli.

HOW TO REGISTER: Please email Chris Manning by 24th April to secure your place:

Registered participants will be sent the link a day or two before the lecture.


1. By Direct Debit (“your name MORGAN” as reference)
BSB: 012 003 Account Number: 2185 28414
Account Name: The Asian Arts Society of Australia

2. By credit card or Paypal on this website – see booking bu f                                                          tton on top right of this page


26 April, 2022
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm AEST
Event Category: