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Sakyamuni Pagoda at Fogong Temple


The Sakyamuni Pagoda of the Fogong Temple, also known as the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County, is located in Yingxian County of Shanxi Province.
The Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County is the earliest and the highest pagoda among the extant wooden-structure pagodas in China. The Fogong Temple in Yingxian County was originally a very big temple built in the Liao Dynasty (916-1135), and underwent reconstruction several times. The extant archway, bell and drum towers, the shrine of Sakyamuni Buddha were all rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), only the wooden pagoda was the original building of the Liao Dynasty.

The wooden pagoda was built in the second year (1056) of the Qingning reign of the Liao Dynasty. The layout of the pagoda has an octagonal plane, and is 67.13 meters tall. The pagoda was built on the 4-meter-high and two-layer stone platform base. The first layer has double eaves and is surrounded with a cloister. The part before the second layer is all installed with enclosures and has a dozen kinds of corbel brackets under each eave looking like clouds gathering together.

The structure of the Wooden Pagoda is very ingenious with two slots of columns inside and outside. There are forehead and cypress beams between the column heads and horizontal components to simulate the hell. The inner slots and outer slots are connected with beams, joining the double layers tightly. On the first storey of the pagoda stands a statue of Sakaymuni Buddha of 11 meters high, solemn and respectful, and 6 walls of the storey are painted with six portraits of Buddhas and 12 flying Apsarases in vivid and elegant posture. There is a quadrangular Buddha on the third storey and the Buddha faces four directions. A sitting statue of Sakayamuni Buddha is located in the center of the fifth storey with 8 giant Bodhisattvas sitting in eight directions.

The wooden pagoda still remains intact though it experienced earthquakes and wars many times in the past 900-odd years from the Liao Dynasty.

When the wooden pagoda was under repair in 1974, many carvedSutra, writtenSutraand color silk pictures and other precious antiques were found in abdomens of the broken statues, providing precious material for the research into the Buddhist activities in the Liao Dynasty and the history of wooden block printing technology in China.

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