Brick and stone pagoda of the Tianning Temple
The Tianning Temple (simplified Chinese : 天 宁 寺 ; traditional Chinese : 天 寧 寺 ; pinyin : Tiān níng Sì ) is a Buddhist temple complex located in Xicheng District of Beijing, in northern China.
The temple contains the 12th-century Pagoda of Tianning Temple. The 8 sided pagoda is of the Liao Dynasty, built from around 1100 to 1119 or 1120 CE, shortly before the Liao Dynasty was conquered by the Jin dynasty.
This thirteen story, 57.8 m (189 ft) tall, octagonal-based Chinese pagoda is made of brick and stone, yet imitates the design of wooden-constructed pagodas from the era by featuring ornamental dougong (bracket supports). It rests on a large square platform, with the bottom portion of the pagoda taking on the shape of a sumeru pedestal.
The pagoda features a veranda with banisters, yet is entirely solid with no hollow inside or staircase as some pagodas feature. Other ornamental designs include arched doorways and heavenly Buddhist guardians. Its design inspired that of later pagodas, such as the similar Ming Dynasty era Pagoda of Cishou Temple of Beijing built in 1576.
The structure and ornamentation have remained the same since the pagoda was built, but the 1976 Tangshan earthquake caused the original pearl-shaped steeple of the pagoda to break off and fall. It has since been restored. The temple grounds surrounding the pagoda have also been renovated and rebuilt several times over the course of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The architectural historian Liang Sicheng (1901–1972)—known for discovering and documenting the oldest existent wooden structures still standing in China—lauded the Pagoda of Tianning Temple as a pristine architectural design of antiquity.
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Chinese architecture demonstrates an architectural style that developed over millennia in China, before spreading out to influence architecture throughout East Asia. Since the solidification of the style in the early imperial period, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details. Starting with the Tang dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam, and a varying amount of influence on the architectural styles of Southeast and South Asia including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and The Philippines. Chinese architecture is typified by various features; such as, bilateral symmetry, use of enclosed open spaces, the incorporation of ideas related to feng shui such as directional hierarchies, a horizontal emphasis, and allusion to various cosmological, mythological, or other symbolism. Chinese architecture traditionally classifies structures according to type, ranging from pagodas to palaces. In part because of an emphasis on the use of wood, a relatively perishable material, and due to a de-emphasis on major monumental structures built of less-organic but more durable materials, much of the historical knowledge of Chinese architecture derives from surviving miniature models in ceramic and published planning diagrams and specifications. Some of the architecture of China shows the influence of other types or styles from outside of China, such as the influences on mosque structures originating in the Middle East. Although displaying certain unifying aspects, rather than being completely homogeneous, Chinese architecture has many types of variation based on status or affiliation, such as dependence on whether the structures were constructed for emperors, commoners, or used for religious purposes. Other variations in Chinese architecture are shown in the varying styles associated with different geographic regions and in ethnic architectural design.
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