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Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County

The real name of the Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County, located in the Fogong (Buddha's Palace) Temple in the northwestern corner of Yingxian County, is the Sakyamuni Pagoda. Since it was built completely of timber, it has been well known as the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County. Standing 67.31 meters high, it is the only extant large wooden pagoda in China and also the tallest among ancient wooden buildings of the world. The pagoda was constructed in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty. After several renovations throughout the dynasties, except for the wooden tower of the Liao Dynasty, other structures, like the Bell and Drum Tower and the Daxiong Palace, were all rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Around the upper edge and at the corners of the platform there are sculptures of crawling lions whose simple and unsophisticated style belonging to the Liao Dynasty. The exterior of the pagoda is divided into five levels, but there are actually nine levels in the interior, including four built-in storeys. The steeple of the pagoda is ten meters high, and the whole pagoda, built on a stone platform of 4 meters high, is 67.31 meters in height. The diameter of the octagonal first storey is 30.27 meters, the longest among ancient pagodas. The ground storey has two tiers of eaves, with steps attached to it.

The caisson ceiling is refined and beautifully structured. When entering the southern door of the pagoda, one can see a statue of Sakyamuni of about 11 meters high. On the inner walls are 6 pictures of Tathagata in different poses. On the walls of the doorway are mural paintings of warrior attendants, heavenly kings, and Buddhist disciples.

For nearly a thousand years, the wooden pagoda has withstood numerous strong earthquakes. Tire pagoda's antiseismic strength, proved by these earthquakes, demonstrated the achievement of wooden architecture in ancient China.

During the repair work in 1974, a number of important and valuable cultural relics were found in the pagoda, including a picture of medicinal herbs and Buddhist scriptures, all belonging to the Liao Dynasty. Scripture scrolls include both hand-written and block-printed ones; some of them are more than thirty meters long when spread out and date back to as early as 990, 1003 or 1071. They are regarded as rare treasures both at home and abroad, providing important data not only for the collating of Buddhist scriptures, but also for the study of the development of printing technology in China.

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