Sunday, September 7, 2008

Songyue Pagoda

The Songyue Pagoda, constructed in 523 CE, is located at the Songyue Monastery on Mount Song, in Henan province, China. Built during the Northern Wei Dynasty, this pagoda is one of the few intact sixth-century pagodas in China and is also the earliest known Chinese brick pagoda.

The unique many-sided shape of the Songyue Pagoda suggests that it represents an early attempt to merge the Chinese architecture of straight edges with the circular style of Indian Buddhism. The perimeter of the pagoda decreases as it rises. As this is seen in Indian and Central Asian Buddhist cave temple and the later round pagodas in China, the changing pagoda shape over time supports the Indian Buddhist origins of the style.


The Songyue Pagoda is unique in form, being twelve-sided. The tower is 40 m high and built of yellowish brick held together with clay . It is the oldest surviving pagoda and was built at a time when, according to records, almost all pagodas were of wood. Viewing the Songyue Pagoda from the outside, the elegant contour is of a smooth parabola, a towering, graceful edifice demonstrating a high level of artistic design.

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