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Chinese Buddhist Pagodas in Varied Colorful Splendor


Buddhist pagodas are tall tower-like buildings used for consecrating or collecting sarira (remains from cremation of Buddha's), statue of Buddha, Buddhist scriptures and monks' bodies. The Buddhist pagoda is also called dagoba. It originated inIndia, from where other Buddhist architectural types spread toChinaafterward. For instance, Zhiti, Dajingshe, Bottle-shaped Pagoda, Thrones of Jingang (Buddha's four great warriors), and so on. Combined with Chinese traditional architectural technology and pattern, various new patterns were developed inChina. Among Chinese ancient buildings, the pagoda is distinctive for its large number and various patterns.

At present more than 2,000 Buddhist pagodas exist inChina, of which the famous ones are: the Wooden Pagoda in Ying County of Shanxi Province, Yingying Pagoda ofPujiuTempleinShanxiProvince, Yingjiang Pagoda inAnqingCityofAnhuiProvinceand the Little Colored Glaze Pagoda inPuleTempleinChengdeCityofHebeiProvince.

 Yingying Pagoda ofPujiuTempleinShanxiProvince

The Pujiu Temple in northwest ofYongjiCountyis the one mentioned intheStory of Yingyingby Yuanzhen of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The pagoda was used for worshiping the Buddha, and no one knows when it got the name of Yingying.The pagoda was built during the Sui (581-618) and Tang dynasties. The existing pagoda in thePujiuTemplewas rebuilt around the year 1521 during the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but it retained parts of the Tang Dynasty style. Thepagoda is square, each side of the ground floor measuring 8.05 meters. The door on the south side is 1.28 meters wide. The inside chamber is square, but the southern and northern walls are not exactly the same length as the eastern and western walls. The door is not in the exact middle, too. There is a niche on the back wall, but the statue of Buddha is missing. No stairs are installed on the first storey; the ceiling is an octagonal dome with a hole in the middle opening to the upper floor. There are 13 eaves built by tiles. As to the lower 7 storeys, the distance from one eave to another gradually and obviously reduces from the lower one to the higher one. Above the 7th storey, the distance is comparably lessened, which are obviously added in the Ming Dynasty. The holes left by poles injected into the pagoda to fix the scaffold can still be seen, which tells the situation of construction at that period.

 Yingjiang Pagoda inAnqingCityofAnhuiProvince

The Yingjiang Pagoda was calledYongchangTemplein ancient times. Constructed in974 in the Tang Dynasty,it is one of the famous ancient temples along the banks ofYangtze River. The Zhenfeng Pagoda (original name of the Yingjiang Pagoda) in the temple was constructed in the 4thyear (1570) of Emperor Longqing's reign in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The multi-storeyed octagonal brick pagoda has seven storeys with a copper bell on each corner, which send out jingling in the wind. Inside the pagoda there are more than 600 Buddhist statues, 51 inscribed tablets and a winding flight of 168 steps. Every storey of the pagoda has balconies enclosed by stone banisters. Its style and the technology are obviously of Ming character with extreme elegance and pageantry. At the top of the tower, one can enjoy a marvelous view of theYangtze RiverandLongMountain. The Reflection of Tower in River is among the Eight Great Sceneries of Anqing.

 Little Colored Glaze Pagoda in PuleTempleinChengdeCityofHebeiProvince

ThePuleTempleis located in Chengde Mountain Resort of Hebei Province. It is in the grove at the foot of the east side of the mountain. Being one of the Eight Outer Temples, it is a grand royal temple built in the 31st year (1766) of Emperor Qianlong's reign in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). To the east of the temple is a huge capital (forum) for Lamaists to practice Tantra. On the tall platform in the capital are eight Lamaist pagodas of various patterns and colors, such as yellow, white, green, purple and black. At the bottom of each pagoda there is a Sumeru pedestal in the shape of quadrangle, hexagon or octagon, with bright colors and elaborate lotus flower design on it.

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