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Little Wild Goose Pagoda

The Little Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located about 1 kilometers south of Jianfu Temple in Xian City of Shaanxi Province. Along with the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was an important landmark in Chang'an, capital of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Since it was smaller and built later than the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was named the Little Wild Goose Pagoda.

The Jianfu Temple, originally located at Kaihuafang of the Tang Dynasty Chang'an, was former residence of Princess Xiangcheng, a daughter of Tang Emperor Taizong. It was originally established in 684 in hornor of Li Zhi -- Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty -- and its original name was the Xianfu Temple, which changed into the Jianfu Temple in 690. It was a famous temple in Chang'an City of the Tang Dynasty.

Little Wild Goose Pagoda
Little Wild Goose Pagoda

The temple was the place where the great translator Monk Yijing of the Tang Dynasty translated Buddhist scriptures. Yijing set out by sea for India in search of Buddhist principles in 671. After traveling over 30 countries for 25 years, he came back to China with some 400 volumes of holy Sanskirt scriptures, and stayed in the Jianfu Temple. Yijing translated altogether 56 volumes of scriptures in the Jianfu Temple and wrote the book Biography of Eminent Monks of the Tang Dynasty in Search of Buddhist Truth in India, which is of great help to the study of Chinese and Indonesian history and the cultural exchange. Now the only extant ancient architecture in the Jianfu Temple is the Little Wild Goose Pagoda.

Little Wild Goose Pagoda
Little Wild Goose Pagoda

The Little Wild Goose Pagoda is a multi-eave and square brick structure. Originally it was 46 meters high with 15 storeys, but now it is 43.3 meters high with 13 storeys, because its steeple was destroyed, as a result of earthquakes. Carved on the lintel are images of arhats and designs of grasses, with excellent workmanship reflecting the artistic style of the early Tang Dynasty. The pagoda has fifteen pent roofs. Each storey is very low with small windows only on the south and north sides to let in light and air. The eaves are formed by designs in the shape of chevrons and fifteen tiers of overlapping bricks, each tier wider than the one below, thus making the eaves curve inward, a characteristic of multi-eave pagodas in the Tang Dynasty. From the first to the fifth storey it tapers very little, but from the sixth storey up, it reduces drastically, giving the pagoda a smooth curved contour. The tubular interior of the pagoda has wooden flooring and a winding flight of wooden steps leading to other storeys.

The shape and structure of the pagoda are typical of early multi-eave pagodas and influenced many brick and stone multi-eave pagodas built later in other parts of the country.

Standing in one of the courtyards is a huge bell -- 4.5 meters in height, 7.6 meters in diameter along the rim, and 10 tons in weight -- dating back to the Jin Dynasty (1192). It was called the "Magic Bell" for an interesting legend that the one who missed his beloved, living far away from him, could write down their names on a piece of yellow paper and send a message by the sound of the Bell. Hence, the "Morning Bell Chimes of the Pagoda" is one of the Eight Famous Scenic Features in Shaanxi.
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