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Pagoda of Cishou Temple

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Introduction
The Pagoda of Cishou Temple, originally known as Yong'anwanshou Pagoda, is a 16th-century stone and brick Chinese pagoda located in the Buddhist Cishou Temple of Balizhuang, a suburb of Beijing, China.

History & Background
This octagonal-shaped pagoda is roughly 50 m (164 ft) tall, with elaborate ornamental carvings, thirteen tiers of eaves, and a small steeple. The Cishou Pagoda was built in 1576 during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), commissioned by Empress Dowager Li during the reign of the Wanli Emperor (1572–1620). The Cishou Pagoda was modelled upon a similar pagoda at Tianning Temple outside Guang'anmen in Beijing. The style of eaves on the pagoda is similar to older Liao dynasty and Jin dynasty pagodas. Although the surrounding Cishou Temple has been destroyed, the original Ming pagoda of Cishou has remained unharmed except for noticeable weathering damage to the carved reliefs on its exterior facade.

The brick base of the pagoda is shaped as a sumeru pedestal and is decorated with relief carvings of the Buddha, lotus petals, and other designs. The upper portion of the pagoda features carved designs of Chinese musical instruments such as the guqin. Stylistic dougong supports—commonly found in wooden Chinese architecture—are carved in between the eaves of the pagoda.

Architecture
Today the pagoda still stands inside Balizhuang’s Linglong Park. The tower is divided into two layers: the lower one is a three-layer platform with stones set in the corners while the upper one is a double-layer Buddha seat carved with exquisite lotus. Many of the carvings show ancient musical instruments.

Years of weathering have left many of the images blurred and difficult to identify. Originally, each level of the tower had 24 niches and 312 Buddha statues. Severe weathering has exposed the wooden frames behind each relief.

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