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L. Giant wild goose pagoda. C. Han Watch tower R. Kiyomizu Temple.

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L. Giant wild goose pagoda. C. Han Watch tower R. Kiyomizu Temple.
7th c L& C Chinese R. Japanese L. Tang C. Han R. Heian Architecture

TANG DYNASTY Anonymous (618 - 909) Primary
TANG DYNASTY Anonymous (618 - 909)
TANG DYNASTY Anonymous (618 - 909)
652
7th c
L. Tang C. Han R. Heian
Pagoda
L. Xi'an China C. Unknown R. Kyoto Japan
Buddhism30.chi01028
We have very few early Chinese pagodas, and so it is difficult to do a full analysis of its development, but they apparently developed out of a combination of Indian stupas and multi-storied watch towers of the Han period like the model you see in the center. The Wild Goose Pagoda on the left built during the 7th century is a good illustration of the stepped towers that resulted. Like the Burmese temple/stupa, they were built around a core which contained niches for Buddha figures and thus are related to the development that we have traced with the sacred stupas. The 8th century Japanese wooden pagoda on the right is undoubtedly derived from Chinese prototypes of an earlier period. Notice the similarity of its upwardly curving hip roofs to those seen on the Han model. An important feature of Japanese wooden pagoda is the central "heart" pillar, which is thought to derive from China. This pillar, which resembles a huge mast, goes upward from a foundation stone sunk deep in the earth to a series of umbrellas and a brass finial on the very top, yet another variation of the mast or yasti of the Buddhist stupa. Four large Buddhas lean up against this central pillar, facing the cardinal directions as they did in the stone temples of Burma and China, the entire ensemble symbolizing the axis mundi, the center or axis of the world, the four Buddhas leading out from that center. The German scholar Dietrich Stekel pointed out that "the central pillar encloses the body, the very essence of the Enlightened one: it represents the Buddha in the state of Nirvana, and itself becomes a symbol of Nirvana." "The vertical extensions can be interpreted as the planes of cosmic existence, and at the same time [the] stages of consciousness, meditation, maturation and enlightenment."

Caption: TANG | L. Giant wild goose pagoda. C. Han Watch tower R. Japanese pagoda. | Tang | Chinese

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