This 13-story octagonal-based Khitan pagoda is made of brick and stone. It is 57.8 meters (189 feet) tall. The Buddhist temple complex now located in Xicheng District of Beijing, in northern China.
The 900-year-old 8-sided brick and stone pagoda was constructed by Khitan Empire which ruled the vast northwestern part of East Asia from the 10th to 12th century.
The Tianning Temple (ô¸宁ÞÑ), called "Temple of Heavenly Rest," imitates the design of wooden-constructed pagodas from the era by featuring ornamental dougong (bracket supports).
The temple 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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