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
Stories: 9 in total, with 5 stories from the exterior and 4 mezzanine layers inside.
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, 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, Picture from baimumuxi wangmumu.
Inside the pagoda preserved exquisite Buddhist statues, frescos, ancient plaques, and historical relics.
Some extremely valuable relics are from the Liao Dynasty (907 — 1125), including color-printing scriptures, books, and paintings.
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
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, Picture from Tingfeng Tingyu.
Feihong Pagoda — Tallest Extant Colorful Glazed Pagoda
Location: Hongtong County, Shanxi Province
Construction Time: 1515 — 1527
Height: 47.31 Meters
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, Photo by Yang Hu.
In addition to resplendent glaze are over 100 iron bells playing melodic music when winds pass by.
Mythical Creatures and Iron Bells on Feihong Pagoda, Picture from Zisetianguang.
The temple where Feihong Pagoda locates, the Guangsheng Temple, is one of the most famous and well-preserved 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
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 worship, another reason for building these Three Pagodas was to adjust Feng Shui and suppress some dragons, which were believed to ease frequent floods in this area.
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 was 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, 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 — Yunnan Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Qianxun Pagoda — The Biggest of the Three Pagodas in Dali
Location: Dali County, Yunnan Province
Construction Time: Around 824 — 859
Height: 69.13 Meters
Three Pagodas of Dali in Yunnan, The Middle is Qianxun Pagoda, Photo by Jiang Chenming.
Iron Pagoda — The Oldest and Tallest Extant Glazed Brick Pagoda in China
Location: Kaifeng City, Henan Province
Construction Time: 1049
Height: 55.88 Meters
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 has survived many big earthquakes, floods, and cannonballs.
Exquisite and rich relief sculptures of the Iron Pagoda hold great historical and cultural value.
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
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 China's oldest and biggest extant square-shaped, brick-made, High-rise Pagoda.
The pagoda was constructed to preserve valuable Buddhist scrolls, statues, and other relics brought back by the eminent monk Xuanzang.
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.
During the Tang Dynasty, many emperors, royals, and accomplished scholars who achieved excellent scores in Imperial Examinations would mount on top of the pagoda, write poems, and carve their names.
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, 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
Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple in Shanxi, Photo by Chen Weijian.
Facts and Valuable Relics of Twin Pagodas
The Twin Pagodas of Yongzuo Temple are also named Lingxiao Twin Pagodas or Wenbi Twin Pagodas.
On the east is Wenfeng Pagoda, built in 1597 and 54.76 meters tall. The one on the west is Sheli Pagoda, built in 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, 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 included the exquisite twin pagodas and the grand Yongzuo Temple.
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 styles of peony flowers.
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
Stories: 13 from the exterior and 7 from interior
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 initially constructed for Feng Shui purposes, to suppress frequent floods of the nearby Qiantang River, and possibly as a lighthouse to aid sailors.
Six Harmonies Pagoda or Liuhe Pagoda Facing Qiantang River, Photo by Lv Haibin.
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