List and Brief Introductions to Famous and Exceptional Chinese Pagodas

 

Pagoda of Fogong Temple — The Most Ancient and Tallest Extant Wooden Pagoda

 

Location: Ying County, Shanxi Province

 

Construction Time: 1056

 

Height: 67.31 Meters 

 

Shape: Octagon

 

Stories: 9 in total, with 5 stories from the exterior, and 4 mezzanine layers inside. 

Pagoda of Fogong Temple in Ying County of Shanxi

Pagoda of Fogong Temple in Ying County of Shanxi

Facts and Valuable Relics of Pagoda of Fogong Temple

 

  • Pagoda of Fogong Temple is also named Shakyamuni Pagoda, or Yingxian Muta.

 

  • This wooden pagoda has survived many large earthquakes and centuries of wind and rain and sunlight.

 

  • 54 styles of Dougong structure are used to construct this wooden and nailless pagoda.

Exquisite Dougong Structures of Pagoda of Fogong Temple

Exquisite Dougong Structures of Pagoda of Fogong Temple, Picture from baimumuxi wangmumu.

  • Inside the pagoda are exquisite Buddhist statues, frescos, ancient plaques, and historic relics.

 

  • Some extremely valuable relics are from the Liao Dynasty (907 — 1125), including color printing scriptures, books, and paintings. 

 

  • The calligraphy plaque "Junji Shengong" on the top was written by Yongle Emperor (1360 — 1424), and the second "Tianxia Qiguan" was written by Zhengde Emperor (1491 — 1521), both were autographed after their military successes on the borders.

Ancient Plaques of Pagoda of Fogong Temple

Ancient Plaques of Pagoda of Fogong Temple

 

Songyue Pagoda — Earliest Extant Brick Pagoda in China

 

Location: Dengfeng City, Henan Province

 

Construction Time: 520 — 525

 

Height: 40 Meters 

 

Shape: Dodecagon

 

Stories: 15

Songyue Pagoda in Henan

Songyue Pagoda in Henan, Picture from VCG.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Songyue Pagoda

 

  • Songyue Pagoda is also the oldest existing Dense-eaves Pagoda in China.

 

  • Scattering among these dense eaves, there are 492 windows and doors.

 

  • It is part of the Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth” in Mount Song, by UNESCO World Heritage.

 

  • It is the only extant Dodecagon pagoda in China. 

Details of Songyue Pagoda in Henan

Details of Songyue Pagoda in Henan, Picture from Tingfeng Tingyu.

 

Feihong Pagoda — Tallest Extant Colorful Glazed Pagoda

 

Location: Hongtong County, Shanxi Province

 

Construction Time: 1515 — 1527

 

Height: 47.31 Meters 

 

Shape: Octagon

 

Stories: 13

Feihong Pagoda in Shanxi

Feihong Pagoda in Shanxi, Picture from IC.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Feihong Pagoda

 

  • Feihong Pagoda is also the best-preserved ancient glazed pagoda in China.

 

  • The first version of this pagoda was constructed in 147.

 

  • Today's Feihong Pagoda was constructed from 1515 to 1527 and applied with colorful glaze in 1622.

 

  • Feihong in Chinese means "Flying Rainbow", which is represented perfectly by its glorious glaze colors. 

Exquisite Colorful Glazed Sculptures on Feihong Pagoda

Exquisite Colorful Glazed Sculptures on Feihong Pagoda, Photo by Yang Hu. 

 

  • In addition to resplendent glaze are over 100 iron bells, which play melodic music when winds pass by. 

Mythical Creatures and Iron Bells on Feihong Pagoda

Mythical Creatures and Iron Bells on Feihong Pagoda, Picture from Zisetianguang.

  • The temple where Feihong Pagoda locates in, the Guangsheng Temple, is one of the most famous and well-reserved temples to worship the God of Water.

 

Inside the temple presented and discovered many extremely valuable relics, such as Jin Dynast (1115 — 1234) scriptures, Yuan Dynasty (1271 — 1368) frescos, and buildings.

Guangsheng Temple and Feihong Pagoda in Hongtong County of Shanxi Province.

Guangsheng Temple and Feihong Pagoda in Hongtong County of Shanxi Province

 

Qianxun Pagoda — The Biggest of the Three Pagodas in Dali

 

Location: Dali County, Yunnan Province

 

Construction Time: Around 824 — 859

 

Height: 69.13 Meters 

 

Shape: Square

 

Stories: 16

Three Pagodas of Dali in Yunnan, The Middle is Qianxun Pagoda

Three Pagodas of Dali in Yunnan, The Middle is Qianxun Pagoda, Photo by Jiang Chenming.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Qianxun Pagoda

 

  • Qianxun is the oldest and tallest of the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple in Dali.

 

  • The two pagodas on each side of Qianxun Pagoda were constructed from 1108 to 1172.

 

  • Besides religious worshiping, another reason for building these Three Pagodas was to adjust Feng Shui and suppress some dragons, which were believed able to ease frequent floods in this area.

Golden Jinchi Bird Used to be Placed on Top of Qianxun Pagoda, A Mythical Creature that Fed on Dragon and Could Ease Huge Flood

Golden Jinchi Bird That Fed on Dragon, Used to be Placed on Top of Qianxun Pagoda to Ease Huge Flood — Yunnan Museum

  • After Qianxun Pagoda was constructed, it had been repaired in 1000, 1142, and 1145. 

 

  • According to historical records, Qianxun Pagoda was split during the big earthquake on the 6th of May, 1514, but the crack disappeared a few days later. 

  • Besides ancient inscriptions and scriptures and Buddhist statues, other exquisite relics unearthed from Qianxun Pagoda include bronze mirrors, coins, ceramics, seals, medications, etc.

 

  • Qianxun Pagoda doesn't have an underground palace, and hundreds of valuable relics were unearthed from the top part of the pagoda.  

Golden Earrings of Dali Kingdom (937 — 1094) Unearthed From Top of Qianxun Pagoda

Golden Earrings of Dali Kingdom (937 — 1094) Unearthed From Top of Qianxun Pagoda — Yunnan Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

 

Iron Pagoda — The Oldest and Tallest Extant Glazed Brick Pagoda of China

 

Location: Kaifeng City, Henan Province

 

Construction Time: 1049

 

Height: 55.88 Meters 

 

Shape: Octagon

 

Stories: 13

Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng

Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng, Photo by Fang Li.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Iron Pagoda

 

  • Iron Pagoda is made of brick and was named after the glaze's iron-like color. 

 

  • The first version was a wooden pagoda built in the year 982, later destroyed by fire caused by lightning. 

 

  • The brick-made Iron Pagoda is strong as expected, and survived many times of big earthquakes, floods, and cannonballs.

 

  • Exquisite and rich relief sculptures of Iron Pagoda hold great historic and cultural value. 

Exquisite Details of Iron Pagoda

Exquisite Details of Iron Pagoda, Picture from wf.

 

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Dayan Pagoda — Symbol of Literature and Success

 

Location: Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province

 

Construction Time: 652

 

Height: 64.52 Meters

 

Shape: Square

 

Stories: 7

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Dayan Pagoda in Xi'an

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Dayan Pagoda in Xi'an, Picture from Honghu Wanli.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

 

  • Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is the oldest and biggest extant square-shaped, brick-made, High-rise Pagoda in China. 

 

  • The pagoda was constructed to preserve valuable Buddhism scrolls, statues, and other relics that were brought back by the eminent monk Xuanzang. 

Statue of Xuanzang in Front of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Dayan Pagoda

Statue of Xuanzang in Front of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Dayan Pagoda, Photo by Sun Yan.

  • The Ci'en Temple where the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is located was a royal temple built in 648 to memorize and pray for Empress Zhangsun, the beloved queen of Emperor Taizong of Tang.

 

  • Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) art preserved inside, including steles, sculpture, calligraphy, and painting, are extremely valuable. 

 

  • In Tang Dynasty, many emperors, royals, and accomplished scholars that achieved excellent scores in Imperial Examinations would mount on top of the pagoda, write poems, and carve their names on it. 

 

  • This has been considered the supreme honor for scholars of Tang and successive dynasties and made the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda one of the most famous symbols of literature and accomplishment. 

Music Fountain in Northern Square of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Music Fountain in Northern Square of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Picture from Shanshui Xiangyi.

 

Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple — The Tallest Ancient Twin Pagodas

 

Location: Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province

 

Construction Time: 1597 and 1612

 

Height: 54.76 Meters and 54.78 Meters

 

Shape: Octagon

 

Stories: 13

Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple in Shanxi

Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple in Shanxi, Photo by Chen Weijian.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Twin Pagodas

 

  • Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple also are named Lingxiao Twin Pagodas or Wenbi Twin Pagodas. 

 

The one on the east is Wenfeng Pagoda, built in the year1597, and 54.76 meters tall. The one on the west is Sheli Pagoda, built in the year 1612, and 54.78 meters tall. 

 

  • They are 60 meters apart, with identical heights and shapes, but from big differences in details. 

 

  • The first pagoda was built for Fengshui purposes, mainly to promote academic fortune, wishing this city to have more talented scholars with literature and political achievements. 

Blue Glaze Decorated on Eaves of Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple

Blue Glaze Decorated on Eaves of Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple, Picture from Zise Tianguang.

  • Later a newly enfeoffed prince invited an exceptional monk Fu Deng to expand this pagoda and the temple.

 

The monk was also a great architect, and the Buddhist master of the current Empress Dowager, who financially supported this expansion project that include the exquisite twin pagodas and the grand Yongzuo Temple.

 

  • Inside the Yongzuo Temple preserved many extremely valuable steles of great scholars since the Three Kingdoms (220 — 280). 

 

  • Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) peonies in the temple's garden are stunning, as well as other different styles of peony flowers. 

Peonies in Front of Twin Pagodas in Yongzuo Temple

Peonies in Front of Twin Pagodas in Yongzuo Temple

 

Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda — Magnificent Feng Shui Pagoda

Location: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province

Construction Time: 1156 — 1165

Height: 59.89 Meters

Shape: Octagon

Stories: 13 from the exterior and 7 from interior

Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou

Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou, Picture from Jiaochuan Xiaopenyou.

Facts and Valuable Relics of Liuhe Pagoda

  • The first version of the Liuhe Pagoda was built in 970 and destroyed in the war in 1121. 

  • Liuhe means Six Harmonies, representing balance and harmony of heaven, earth, and four directions. 

  • This pagoda was originally constructed for Feng Shui purposes, to suppress frequent floods of the nearby Qiantang River, and also possibly as a lighthouse to aid sailors.

Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda Facing Qiantang River

Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda Facing Qiantang River, Photo by Lv Haibin.