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Ornamental Pagoda at Guanghui Temple

2004-09-06 17:02:55



  This ornamental pagoda stands in the county town of Zhengding. The pagoda was built in the Kin Dynasty. It has the most spectacular form and the most magnificent ornaments of pagodas of this kind.
  It is a three-storey octagonal pagoda, 40.5 meters tall, entirely made of bricks. The design of the pagoda is special: Attached to four corners of the octagonal first storey are four small hexagonal single-storeyed pagodas, serving as pedestals for the principal structure. There are arched doors on the front of the main pagoda as well as on the four small pagodas. The eaves on the big pagoda and the small ones all have brick brackets, whose structure is also different from that of brackets on most other traditional Chinese buildings. The second storey on the principal structure is also octagonal in shape, with one recessed door flanked by false lattice windows on the four sides facing north, south, east and west. On the other four sides there is a false perpendicular lattice window in the middle, flanked by false lattice windows. An octagonal pedestal stands on top of the second storey‘s eaves. The third storey, standing in the middle of the pedestal, is much smaller than the first and second storeys. There is a rectangular door on the front and false doors or twill-pattern lattice window on the other sides. The upper part of the pagoda, above the third level, is about one third the total height of the pagoda and looks like a bouquet. Sculptures of lions, tigers, elephants, and dragons as well as Buddha images are arranged vertically all around the pagoda. The sculptures were made by first laying bricks as the inner skeleton and then coating them with clay. The different animals and images of Buddha were arranged alternately. Above the bouquet-shaped upper part there is another layer of brackets, rafters and upturned eaves, topped by an octagonal roof. There used to be a steeple on top of the roof, but it was damaged over the years and is missing today. Judging from the traces on the roof, it had a brick core covered by clay. A remnant of the spire is still there.
  There used to be colored paintings on the surface of the pagoda. Its brilliant luster is imaginable even today.

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