Tiger Hill, Suzhou continued

Tiger Hill and Suzhou remained. During the Qin Dynasty (秦朝, 221-206 BC), the area was under the rule of Shi Huang (始皇), the first emperor. It is said that he sent an expedition to Tiger Hill to dig up the swords of He Lü. They didn't find them, but the hole they left became the Sword Pool.

Wu again rose to prominence during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD) when Wu was one of the three powerful forces. Eventually the three, Wu, Shu and Wei were conquered by the Jin.

During the Eastern Jin Dynasty (東晉, 317-420 AD) a Buddhist temple was built on Tiger Hill. During successive generations, more and more buildings, steles, and carvings were added to the hill. During the Sui Dynasty (581-618) Suzhou became a major center for trade and expanded due to the completion of the Grand Canal. Emperor Yangdi (煬帝) connected the original Wu canal with new passages allowed river passage from Hangzhou in the south with Beijing in the north. The work began in 604 AD and finished six years later in 610. The fertile Jiangnan region was now connected to greater China. The north-south canal linked 6 major rivers including the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers that gave access to the west.

The Tiger Hill Pagoda was begun in 959 during the Five Dynasty and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-960) when Wu was one of the Ten Kingdoms and completed in 961 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

It was part of a larger Yunyan temple complex. It is built of stone, but mimics the earlier wooden pagodas of earlier eras. The stone brackets that provide decorative detail would have been structural on a wooden pagoda, but serve no function on this stone version. It has seven floors rising to a height of 47.5 meters. There is no internal stairway, ladders were used to climb to the different levels.

The pagoda began to lean during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). In 1957 archaeologists began work to stabilize the pagoda. It was found that half of it was built on a ledge and half on softer ground. Cement was use to shore up the weaker side. During the work they discovered a casket filled with Buddhist manuscripts. The casket was engraved with and inscription that stated that the pagoda had been completed December 17th of the second year of the reign of Emperor Jianlong, that is, 961 AD.

China Index >> History of Shanghai and Suzhou Region >> Suzhou

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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007