The wooden Sakyamuni Pagoda in Yingxian county [Photo/VCG]
The wooden Sakyamuni Pagoda in Yingxian county, Shanxi province, was built during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and is the oldest and tallest wooden architectural structure in China.
It stands 67.31 meters high and has a base measuring 30.27 meters in diameter, with nine stories, five of them in use.
The octagonal pagoda, which is made entirely of wooden parts joined by innumerable mortises and tenons, was built with a complicated structure of brackets, without using any nails.
The external pillars of each story have beam frames set on the external pillars of the layer below, about half a pillar inward, giving the tower a graceful contour. The pagoda is well proportioned and presents a splendid sight.
During a renovation in 1974, a number of sutras were found, some hand-written and others block printed. They are important materials for the study of religion and printing technology of the Liao Dynasty (1271-1368), as well as the political, economic and cultural developments of the dynasty.
This amazing pagoda has somehow survived the natural and human vicissitudes of history for 950 years.
Historical records show the pagoda has remained sound despite earthquakes and fires, such as a large earthquake lasting for seven days during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and a magnitude-9 earthquake during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In 1926, when warlords were fighting with each other over Shanxi, the pagoda was hit by 200 artillery shells, leaving many holes. It was even set on fire several times, but the fires surprisingly died out by themselves and the pagoda stood firm.
Many other wooden towers in China have been destroyed by fire during thunderstorms and areas around them have been struck by lightning, but Yingxian is lightning-proof as well as quake- and fire-proof. In the 1950s, two objects 100 meters from the tower were hit by lightning, but the tower stood firm.
The pagoda was listed as a national 4A tourist attraction in 2007.
Address: Jincheng town, Yingxian county, Shuozhou city, Shanxi province
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