Flying apsaras in the grottoes of the Northern Wei dynasty

Start - End 
2022 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Research Period 
Research Region 
Additional tags 
Yungang cave
Longmen caves
Gongyi caves
Northern Wei Buddhism
Northern Wei cave art



The main objective of this research are the flying apsaras in the grottoes of the Northern Wei Dynasty, focusing on the three main royal grottoes, Yungang Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes and Gongyi Grottoes.

The main purpose of this research is to clarify the characteristics and style of the flying apsaras images in the grottoes of the Northern Wei Dynasty, try to sort out how the flying apsaras motif of the three grottoes evolved, and discuss the relationship to the specific social history of the locations, to Buddhist and Taoist culture, the sacrificial customs of the Xianbei ethnicity, as well as the features of the art in tomb murals. In addition, the changes in the diachronic development of the flying apsaras motif during the Northern Wei Dynasty will be traced.

The methodologies used in this research are a combination of textual studies, iconographic analysis, as well as historical studies..




Phd Student(s)


Monika Zin

Leipzig University