The Three Northern Song Pagodas in Pengzhou
Name: Northern Song Pagodas
Location: Pengzhou, Chengdu
Built in: 1054 AD (Zhenguo Temple Pagoda), 1033 AD (Yunjuyuan Pagoda), 1023 AD (Zhengjue Temple Pagoda)
Features: In architectural style, they integrate the characteristics of northern pagodas and the west Sichuan's and are the representatives of Chinese Buddhist temples in Sichuan.
Pengzhou, 60 km of driving away from Chengdu, has three Northern Song pagodas which were officially listed as a national key cultural relics protection unit in 2006. There are 7 pagodas in Pengzhou, among which Yunjuyuan Pagoda, White Pagoda of Zhengjue Temple and White Pagoda of Zhenguo Temple are the most representatives. The three pagodas form the most concentrated old building group of pagodas in Chengdu.
You can easily find Zhenguo Temple Pagoda after passing the White Pagoda Community at the foot of the mountain. Its body is a dense-eave 13-storey square-brick pagoda with a total height of 28.34m. Outside its body there are also 13 storeys of outer edge stacking with embossments on it, telling a Buddhist story or showing images of pagoda and ascending to heaven. Inside the pagoda, narrow bricks connect with square bricks, and you can see a pagoda room two floors upstairs. It is bonded by yellow mud and mortar and reinforced using 4cm-wide and 1cm-thick flat irons seen in every certain spacing as the bones of the tower, according to the local data of cultural relics. Today, Zhenguo Temple is nowhere to be found and the pagoda remains alone. The conclusions are the result of investigations on the architectural structure of pagoda.
Yunjuyuan Pagoda, named after the Yunju Institute in Song Dynasty, only has stone steps and foundations remained. Built during the reign of Jingyou in Northern Song (1033 AD), it is a dense-eave 13-storey solid square tower with a height of 20.38m. Its base is Xumizuo and used to have 156 wind bells around it that could be heard miles away whenever the wind passed by. Its tower top has four golden male phoenixes, but the four you can see now are replicates and the real ones are preserved in the museum. This thin pagoda looks like a long sword up into the sky, with the layers contracting inward by layer from the bottom to the top. Although it has been through earthquakes, it is still the most well preserved pagoda in Pengzhou.
Located in Hongta Village, Hongyan Township, Zhengjue Temple Pagoda was built in the first year of Tiansheng of the reign of Renzong of Northern Song (1023 AD) and completed in the fourth year of Tiansheng (1026 AD). Zhengjue Temple Pagoda is also a dense-eave 13-storey square-brick pagoda, with a height of 27.54m. It has an arched door at its foot and one side leads straight to the top of the tower. Inside the pagoda, there are three storeys of pagoda rooms with fine bucket arches decorating on the inside in a progressive manner that comply with ergonomics and enable people to freely walk in the room. The pagoda had been included in 1981 in books such as The Sights of China, Chinese Pagodas and Sichuan Famous Pagodas because of its unique architectural style, building techniques and mechanical structures. However, this pagoda was cracked in earthquake and warfare because it is close to the village.
These pagodas are representatives of Chinese ancient Northern Song Buddhist buildings in Sichuan for their exquisite compositions and excellent workmanship. The practical value, decoration and appearance of the pagodas are all stressed on, and the styles of northern and southern architecture are integrated. As for details, the pagodas have high historical and artistic and appreciation value for their colorful murals, embossments and pillars.