Lofty legends: 14 ancient Chinese pagodas with distinctive styles

The Songyue Temple Pagoda, Dengfeng, Henan province

Updated: Apr 13, 2022 www.chinaservicesinfo.com Print
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Construction of the Songyue Temple Pagoda, which is situated at the southern foot of the Songshan Mountains in Dengfeng, Central China's Henan province, was completed in 523 during the Northern Dynasty (386-581). The structure is the oldest surviving multi-eave brick pagoda in China.

Construction of the Songyue Temple Pagoda was completed in 523 during the Northern Dynasty. [Photo/VCG]

Featuring a dodecagonal plan, which looks almost like a circle, the pagoda is the only one of its kind in China. It is 40 meters high with 15 stories and exotic decoration styles. The pagoda core is an octagonal shaft of 10 stories.

The Songyue Temple Pagoda is the only pagoda featuring a dodecagonal plan in China. [Photo/VCG]

From bottom to top, the delicately-outlined pagoda is composed of a simple base, a body resembling a giant inverted bowl, a lotus-petal girdle, xianglun rings (a cone-shaped vertical shaft), a finial and a finial pearl. The space between each layer of eaves lessens upwardly, matching well with the whole profile and making the pagoda looks grand and elegant. Its style is quite close to that of an Indian stupa.


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