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Small Wild Goose Pagoda 小雁塔

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built in the year 707 A.D during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was built after the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and in a different style. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is much more delicate looking than its sister.

Originally, the pagoda had fifteen stories. Each floor was slightly shorter than the next, giving the pagoda a feeling of diminishing height. Today, it stands 142 feet (43.38 meters) tall. When it was built it was taller; it lost two floors during the 1556 earthquake in Shaanxi. It has withstood over seventy earthquakes over the centuries.

The original builders encased the base of the pagoda into a spherical pounded earth mound. The mound absorbs the shocks of the quakes and distributes the pressure over the sphere. Many of the ancient buildings were quake resistant, something that modern architects in China should study. The mortise and tenon support structures on the interior buildings were designed to absorb shifts in pressure and counterbalance such effects. The structure is so internally stable that when cracks have appeared in the outer skin of bricks due to quakes, the building remains stable until the next quake closes the cracks!

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Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010