This study reexamines images and textual materials that can be related to the dating and iconography of caves at Yungang and Longmen and the historical transition between them. The transition is associated with the move of the Northern Wei capital from Pingcheng to Luoyang, and the beginnings of the Longmen caves is widely believed to coincide with the establishment of the capital at Luoyang in 495. Inscriptions in the Guyang Cave have been interpreted to support the widely held belief that it was created at the time of the move of the capital. Visual evidence of sculptural practice and transitions in sculptural art that can be observed broadly between caves and cave site can also be seen in micro-environments within a single cave or a single niche that offer new insights. Through comparative analysis of the caves' images and artworks found in other contexts, and their consideration in conjunction with textual materials, the author proposes a revisionist reconstruction of the early work in the Guyang Cave.

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