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Zushi Pagoda of Foguang Temple

Buddhist personages call pagodas as Buddhist pagodas to show their respect. Ancient pagodas throughout China, as one of the carriers of five thousand years of Chinese civilization, are appraised as Outstanding High Buildings of Ancient China. Buddhist pagodas are also a reflection of Buddhist art.

Zushi Pagoda sits in Foguang Temple on Foguang Mountain 32 kilometers northeast from Wutai County, Shanxi Province. The Pagoda, founded in the reign of Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471-499) of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), is the dagoba of Buddhist Monk Chuzu, who built the Foguang Temple. It is of brick structure in plane hexagon and has two storeys of about 8 meters high, assuming a simple and primitive mode. The body of the Pagoda is made of black bricks painted white, indicating pure and clean.

The plane of the Pagoda is hexagonal. The pagoda base is made of six layers of black bricks, which draw in step by step, and three more steps are added to the sixth step, on which the hexagonal pagoda body was built. The front of the Pagoda is a flat arch gate decorated with flamboyant lotus on the top. Inside the Pagoda, Statues of Zen founders Wuming and Huiming are enshrined. The first eave includes one layer brick arch and three layers of lotus petals. The whole eave looks perfectly grand and solid. Under the bracket there are nine lotus petals, above are three layers of lotus petals, and in the middle is a pedestal of Buddha's statue imitating the style of an ancient folding chair, which holds a hexagonal attic. The small attic has a false arch door in a semi-open way; it also has straight lattice windows with wood-structured head lintels and short pillars. The top, middle, and bottom of the four pillars are decorated with bunches of lotus. The whole decoration of the attic follows the Indian style and the relique of the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period (420-581). The bottom of the Pagoda consists of two layers of lotuses holding pearls.

It is an outstanding extant Chinese attic-style pagoda. The Pagoda, with its peculiar shape unique in China, is one of the two extant pagodas built in the Northern Wei Dynasty in China.

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