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Beijing’s Ancient Pagodas

The ancient pagodas of Beijing have been built before Sui and Tang Dynasty accompanied spreading of Buddhism. The existents are mostly after Tang Dynasty, especially outstanding pagodas of Liao and Jin period. The period of Ming, Yuan and Qing also have its distinguished works. Different from what I saw in my trip to Xian The one in Miaoying Temple of Yuan Dynasty is the most outstanding representative of the inverted-bowl-shaped Lamaist pagodas. The Beijing’s ancient pagodas not only have a large quantity but have distinguished value on architectural structure, technique and arts of engineering and sculpt. It is one of the most important representative part of Chinese ancient pagodas.

The White Pagoda Of Beihai

Domineering over the top of Qiong islet The White Pagoda lies at the Beihai park in Beijing center, which is the one of important landmark in the center of Beijing. Standing 35.9 meters high, the inverted-bowl-style Lamaist pagoda on the bottom is a huge cross shaped Sumeru pedestal made of white marble. On the front of the dagoba, there is a kettle-shaped yanguang gate with incantations inscribed in Sanskrit. A lofty steeple was etched on top of the inverted-bowl body of the pagoda. The base of the steeple is a small Sumeru pedestal, also known as the neck of the pagoda. The main structure of the steeple is surrounded by thirteen layers of wheel, called “thirteen heavens” and surrounded by a canopy decorated with a crescent moon and precious bead.

White pagoda of Miaoying Mona

Located inside Fucheng Gate in Beijing. the temple was built in 1096 during the Liao Dynasty. According to historical accounts, the first pagoda, built during the Liao Dynasty, contained Buddhist relics, rosaries, little stupas made of fragrant clay, Dharani scriptures, and other objects. In 1271, the pagoda was destroyed by Emperor Shizu of the Yuan Dynasty and a new Lamaist pagoda on a much larger scale was erected. That is the present White Dagoba, so called because of the white lime painted on the building’s exterior.

Why was the old pagoda of Liao Dynasty destroyed to be built a new one? There were some reasons on politics and religion. In Yuan Dynasty the monarch initiated Lamasery to White Dagoba at Miaoying Temple was designed and rebuilt by a Nepalese architect named Anika. Previously, dagobas of this style were rare in China. It was both a Lamaist dagoba and a representative of earliest Buddhist stupas. At 50.9 meters high, it is the largest and one of the oldest pagodas of its kind extant in China.

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