Shanxi Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, China

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Yingxian Wooden Pagoda

Yingxian Wooden Pagoda is located in Yingxian, Shanxi province. People can see a high pagoda towering aloft in the area about 70 likometers away from Datong, that is called Yingxian Wooden Pagpoda,one of five ancient architectures in Shanxi province.

Yingxian is in the north of Shanxi province, the wooden pagoda is in the north-west of the county. Yingxian wooden pagoda is also called Buddha Palace Mosque Shijia pagoda, which was set up in 2nd year of Da Liao Qingning (1056 A.D.).

Nearly 1000 years ago, the Buddha Palace Mosque was a magnificant mosque. After that, it was damaged during war. The wooden pagoda named Shijia Pagoda has been towered aloft until nowadays.

The outside appearance of the pagoda is octagon, 67.3 meter high. The diameter of groud floor is 30 meters. It has 5 floors and 6 eaves if you look it from outside, In fact, every floor has inner layer, so, it has 5 floors outside and 4 floors inside, 9 floors together.

The image of Sakyamuni is in the middle of first floor which looks grand and solemn, gives people mysterious feeling. There are 6 portraits of Buddha in the wall with proper proportion and bright colour. "Feitian" (one of fresco) beside the Buddha head look active and plentiful, glowing with health and radiating vigour, it is a masterpiece among fresco.

There is a sitting Buddha who faces to four directions on the 3rd floor. There is a sitted image of Sakyamuni in the middle of 5th floor, 8 Bodhisattva sit around it. As there is no inner floors in the center of the pagoda, the image looks more solemn and grand. All these used structure-gap well and designed very scientifically.

There are sidewalks and surrounded railing for people leaning on and enjoying a distant view from the 2nd to 5th floor. Especially, when people mount on the top floor, they not only can see the whole county, but also see the Heng hill in the distance dimly.

According to the record of relative historical documents, if people stand on the top floor, they can see the views 60 kilometers away. Therefore, the top of the pagoda can be used not only for enjoying scenic beauty, but also be used as surveying stand for observing and commanding struggle in ancient times.

One thing that is worth mentioning is as follows: Except the 4-meter-high stone ground, the wooden pagoda did not use any nail or rivet, all materials are wooden and connected by 50 kinds of base-mat. Every floor was supported by wooden pillars from inside and outside, about 60kinds of inclined beams, wooden stumps and short pillars were used between the wooden pillars, thus, formed a wooden structure of repeated beam.

So, the wooden pagoda looks solid and beautiful. This wooden structure pagoda without any nail and rivet is a huge building project with high-digree difficulty.

According to the record of historical documents, Yingxian wooden pagoda used 3500CBM wood. It is said that the ruler of Liao dynasty used thousands of labour force from Heibei and Shanxi at that time. Pine and elm were used widely because pine can not be out of shape and elm is very solid.

Just because lots pine and elm used in the wooden pagoda, it has still towered a loft until now although passed 900 years and eroded by wind and rain, damaged by earthquake and struggle.

During 200 years from the wooden pagoda finished to the years of Yuanshun emperor, it passed 7 times of strong earthquakes, but it still kept well; During the war of Yan and Feng warlords in 1926, it shot by 200 shells, only 2 pillars was broken.

Since 1974, the local government maintained the wooden pagoda, spent 8 years, used 300CBM wood, costed RMB380,000 yuan. During the period of maintaining, a lot of scuptures and silk Buddha painting of wooden block printing were found in the stomach of Buddha image.

Every floor (inside or outside) preserved Buddha image and relics in the pagoda. It occupies special position in architecture scale and art among the ancient pagodas today in China. It is the only highest and oldest Buddha pagoda with wood only. So, It can be called a treasure of ancient building in the world.