History of Pizhi Pagoda in Shandong China
Pizhi Pagoda is an 11th century pagoda located at Lingyan Temple,
Chanqing, near Jinan, Shandong province, China. The pagoda has unique
structure and was built in 753 in the Tang dynasty under the reign of
Emperor Xuanzhong. The pagoda was rebuilt between 1056 – 1063 in the
Northern Song dynasty. The present pagoda is a Song dynasty
reconstruction during the last reigning years of Emperor Renzong.
Pizhi is the Chinese translation of Pratyeka, it was used to refer to people (after the death of the Sakyamuni Buddha) who gained insight into Buddhism through cultivation and self-study and became Buddhas eventually. This pagoda was dedicated to these people and such pagodas are very rare in China.
The octagonal Pizhi pagoda stands at a height of 54 m with nine stories and it is made of brick and stone. The first to third storeys of the pagoda have pent roofs with balconies. The fourth to ninth storeys also have pent roofs but no balconies. The stone pedestal is carved with Buddhist afterlife and scenes of torture in hell on four sides. The iron steeple (composed of an inverted bowl, discs, a crescent, a sun and a bead) is quite tall and well preserved. Iron chains are used to keep it firmly into place on the rooftop. There are also small iron statues of celestial guards placed on the ridge of each corner to secure the chains.
The internal structure of the pagoda is unique indeed. You can see a brick pillar and brick steps leading to the fifth floor from the first floor, but after that you need to use a winding staircase outside the pagoda to climb to the top. Although such a structure is often seen in stone pagodas but is rare in brick ones.
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Sometimes you can see traditional lion dance and Chinese dragon dance performing around the Buddhist pagoda on important events.