Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pagoda of Tianning Temple (Beijing)

The Pagoda of Tianning Temple , located in Guang'anmen of Beijing, China, is a Liao Dynasty pagoda built from around 1100 to 1119 or 1120 CE, shortly before by and . This thirteen story, 57.8 m tall, octagonal-based Chinese pagoda is made of brick and stone, yet imitates the design of from the era by featuring ornamental ''dougong'' . It rests on a large square platform, with the bottom portion of the pagoda taking on the shape of a sumeru pedestal. The pagoda features a veranda with banisters, yet is entirely solid with no hollow inside or staircase as some pagodas feature. Other ornamental designs include arched doorways and heavenly guardians. Its design inspired that of later pagodas, such as the similar Ming Dynasty era Pagoda of Cishou Temple of Beijing built in 1576.

The structure and ornamentation have remained the same since the pagoda was built, but caused the original pearl-shaped steeple of the pagoda to break off and fall. It has since been restored. The temple grounds surrounding the pagoda have also been renovated and rebuilt several times over the course of the and dynasties. The architectural historian Liang Sicheng —known for discovering and documenting the still standing in China—lauded the Pagoda of Tianning Temple as a pristine architectural design of antiquity.

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