Lofty legends: 14 ancient Chinese pagodas with distinctive styles

Baoen Temple Pagoda, Suzhou, Jiangsu province

Updated: Apr 13, 2022 Print
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Construction of the Baoen (Repaying Kindness) Temple was initiated during the Three Kingdoms (220-280) by Sun Quan (182-252), founder of the Wu Kingdom (222-280), to express his gratitude to his mother. It is also said that the temple was built for Sun’s foster-nurse.

The Baoen Temple Pagoda covers an area over 870 square meters and stands 76 meters high. [Photo/IC]

With a history for more than 1,400 years, the Baoen Temple Pagoda was fully established during the 6th century. It covers an area of over 870 square meters and stands 76 meters high. It has a nine-story brick structured body, wooden eaves, eight facets, and staircases built in the space between its inner and outer walls. A paragon of the Chinese multi-story pavilion pagoda style, it boasts elaborated decorations such as brick-built caisson vaults at the doors and in the central chamber on each floor.

The wooden eaves of the pagoda were rebuilt during the Guangxu reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The renovation involved a re-design of eave corners to the up-turned style and the addition of columns to support the eaves.

The eave corners of the pagoda are up-turned. [Photo/IC]

The finial sticks out from the top stories and is shored up by a big girder below stretching from east to west. The pagoda finial accounts for roughly a fifth of the height of the pagoda.

The Baoen Temple Pagoda overall presents a majestic and grand style with ingenious construction and proportions. The up-turned eave corners and slender pagoda finial add to it a graceful and elegant air that reflects the architectural style popular in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

A view of the pagoda from the entrance to the Baoen Temple [Photo/IC]


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