Pagoda Forest at Shaolin Temple
The Pagoda Forest at Shaolin Temple refers to the 228 stone or brick pagodas built in Henan province, China from 791 AD during the Tang Dynasty through the Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, and Qing Dynasty.
The pagoda forest in Shaolin stands at the foot of Shaoshi Mountain and is one of the largest pagoda forests in China. It was named a National Scenic Spot in 1996.
Most of the Pagoda Forest is stone and brick structures, ranging from one to seven stories, less than 15 meters (42 feet) high – much smaller than pagodas for Buddhist relics – all carry the exact year of their construction and many carvings and inscriptions.
They are in a variety of styles, but are mainly multi-eaved and of pavilion-style. Their shapes are varied, including polygonal, cylindrical, vase, conical and monolithic, making the pagoda forest an exhibition of ancient pagodas, carvings and calligraphy of various dynasties.
The levels, or storeys, on the pagodas must be odd numbers (from one to seven) and are based on the achievements of the Buddhist masters they were built for. The era the pagodas were built in affects the shape (round or square) and the number of sides (4 or 6).
Besides the pagoda forest there are many invaluable tomb pagodas scattered around the Shaolin Temple, including the Faro Pagoda built in 689 in the Tang Dynasty, the Tongguang Pagoda constructed in 926 AD in the Five Dynasties, the Yugong Pagoda erected in 1324 AD in the Yuan Dynasty, and the Zhaogong Pagoda built in the Ming Dynasty.
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