Lofty legends: 14 ancient Chinese pagodas with distinctive styles

The Liuhe Pagoda, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Updated: Apr 13, 2022 Print
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Seated on the banks of the Qiantang River, the Liuhe Pagoda was first constructed in the orchard of Qian Hongchu (929-88), the last king of the Wuyue Kingdom during the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960). It was built to resist the tidal surge. Its name “Liuhe” implies harmonic Buddhist philosophy as well as the universe in traditional Chinese culture.

The Liuhe Pagoda is seated on the banks of the Qiantang River in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo/VCG]

With a graceful appearance and an exquisite design, the pagoda covers an area of 890 square meters and stands at a height of around 60 meters. There are 104 iron bells hanging on the corners of the eaves of each floor.

The inner core of the pagoda is built in a masonry structure with seven stories linked by a spiral staircase, while its exterior is constructed in an octagonal plan in a lofty-pavilion style with 13 tiers of eaves. Emperor Qianlong (r.1736-96) was so fond of the pagoda that he made an inscription for each of its floors.

The exterior of the Liuhe Pagoda is in a multi-layered wooden pavilion style with an octagonal plan. [Photo/VCG]
An upward view of the Liuhe Pagoda [Photo/VCG]

The third tier of the Sumeru terraces of the pagoda is engraved with various patterns such as flowers, birds, beasts, and fairies.

The renowned architect Liang Sicheng (1901-72) and his team surveyed the Liuhe Pagoda in 1934 and affirmed that its inner core was built in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) while the exterior was a refurbishment done during the Qing Dynasty, according to the study of the Yingzao Fashi (Treatise on Architectural Methods or State Building Standards) written by Li Jie (1065-1110).

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