Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pagoda of Fogong Temple

The Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple of Ying County, Shanxi province, China, is a wooden Chinese pagoda built in 1056, during the Khitan-led Liao Dynasty. The pagoda was built by Emperor Daozong of Liao at the site of his grandmother's family home. The pagoda, which has survived several large earthquakes throughout the centuries, reached a level of such fame within China that it was given the generic nickname of the "Muta" .

The pagoda stands on a 4 m tall stone platform, has a 10 m tall steeple, and reaches a total height of 67.31 m tall; it is the oldest existent fully-wooden pagoda still standing in China.


The Pagoda of Fogong Temple was built 85 km south of the Liao Dynasty capital at Datong. The ''Gujin Tushu Jicheng'' encyclopedia published in 1725—written during the reigns of and in the —states that a different pagoda built between the years 936–943 stood previously at the site before the present one of 1056 was built. In compiling a record for Ying County, Tian Hui of the late Ming Dynasty researched the history of the pagoda and recorded the history of its repairs in his ''Zhongxiu Fogongsi ta zhi''. Other evidence to suggest the later date includes the fact that the foster mother of was a native of Yingzhou. This occurred at roughly the same time in which Fujiwara no Yorimichi of Japan converted the Phoenix Hall of his father Fujiwara no Michinaga's residence at Byōdō-in into a temple meant to guide souls into the Buddhist afterlife . which used to be called Baogong Temple until its name was changed to Fogong in 1315 during the Yuan Dynasty. Although the size of the temple grounds were described as being gigantic during the Jurchen-led , the temple began to decline during the Ming Dynasty. Between each outer story of the pagoda is a where the bracket arms are located on the exterior. From the exterior, the pagoda seems to have only five stories and two sets of rooftop eaves for the first story, yet the pagoda's interior reveals that it has nine stories in all. The four hidden stories can be indicated from the exterior by the pagoda's ''pingzuo'' . A ring of columns support the lowest outstretching eaved roof on the base floor, while the pagoda also features interior support columns. A statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni sits prominently in the center of the first floor of the pagoda, with an ornate above its head . A ''zaojing'' is also carved into the ceiling of every story of the pagoda. The windows on the eight sides of the pagoda provide views of the countryside, including and the Songgan River. On a clear day, the pagoda can be seen from a distance of 30 km .

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