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The Iron Pagoda of Kaifeng, China, built in 1049 AD
Wooden five-story pagoda of Hōryū-ji in Japan, built in 7th century, one of the oldest wooden pagodas in the world.
Wooden three-story pagoda of Ichijō-ji in Japan, built in 1171 AD
One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Fogong Temple Pagoda, Shanxi, China, built in 1056 AD
The Bombardier Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist, and were often located in or near temples. This term may refer to other religious structures in some countries. In Vietnam, pagoda is a more generic term referring to a place of worship, although pagoda is not an accurate word to describe a Buddhist temple. The modern pagoda is an evolution of the Ancient Indian stupa, a tomb-like structure where sacred relics could be kept safe and venerated.[1] The architectural structure of the stupa has spread across Asia, taking on many diverse forms as details specific to different regions are incorporated into the overall design.

Contents

Terms

The word is first attested for in English in the period c. 1625–35; introduced from the Portuguese pagode, temple, from the Persian butkada (but idol + kada temple, dwelling.) [2] Another etymology, found in many English language dictionaries, is modern English pagoda from Portuguese (via Dravidian), from Sanskrit bhagavati, feminine of bhagavat "blessed" < bhaga "good fortune."

History

The origin of the pagoda can be traced to the Indian stupa (3rd century BCE).[3] The stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics.[3] The stupa emerged as a distinctive style of Indian architecture and was adopted in Southeast and East Asia,[4] where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics.[3] In East Asia, the architecture of Chinese pavilions blended into pagoda architecture, eventually also spreading to Southeast Asia. The pagoda's original purpose was to house relics and sacred writings.[5] This purpose was popularized due to the efforts of Buddhist missionaries, pilgrims, rulers, and ordinary devotees to seek out, distribute, and extol Buddhist relics.[6]

Araniko (real name Balabahu) was a Nepalese architect born in the 13th century AD in Kathmandu, is believed to have come up with design of pagoda style buildings.

Symbolism

Chinese iconography is noticeable in Chinese pagoda as well as other East Asian pagoda architectures. The image of the Shakyamuni Buddha in the abhaya mudra is also noticeable in some Pagodas. Buddhist iconography can be observed throughout the pagoda symbolism.[7]

In an article on Buddhist elements in Han art, Wu Hung suggests that in these tombs, Buddhist iconography was so well incorporated into native Chinese traditions that a unique system of symbolism had been developed.[8]

Architecture

Pagodas attract lightning strikes because of their height. This tendency may have played a role in their perception as spiritually charged places. Many pagodas have a decorated finial at the top of the structure. The finial is designed in such a way as to have symbolic meaning within Buddhism; for example, it may include designs representing a lotus. The finial also functions as a lightning rod, and thus helps to both attract lightning and protect the pagoda from lightning damage. Early pagodas were constructed out of wood, but steadily progressed to sturdier materials, which helped protect against fires and rot.

Pagodas traditionally have an odd number of levels, a notable exception being the eighteenth century pagoda "folly" designed by Sir William Chambers at Kew Gardens in London.

Some notable pagodas

Structures that invoke pagoda architecture:

  • The Bombardier Pagoda, or Pagoda Tower, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This 13-story pagoda, used as the control tower for races such as the Indy 500, has been transformed several times since it was first built in 1913.[9]
  • Taipei 101 in Taiwan, record setter for height (508m) in 2004 and currently the world's second tallest completed building.

Other Uses:

  • Mercedes-Benz W113, nicknamed Pagoda for its concave hard top roof line. Included are the 1964-1971 230SL, 250SL, and 280SL sport coupes.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press
  2. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition. Random House, New York, 1993.
  3. ^ a b c Pagoda. Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. ^ The Evolution of Indian Stupa Architecture in East Asia. Eric Stratton. New Delhi, Vedams, 2002, viii, ISBN 81-7936-006-7
  5. ^ A World History of Architecture. Michael W. Fazio, Marian Moffett, Lawrence Wodehouse. Published 2003. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0071417516.
  6. ^ The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. John Kieschnick. Published 2003. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691096767.
  7. ^ The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. John Kieschnick. Published 2003. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09676-7. page 83
  8. ^ The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. John Kieschnick. Published 2003. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09676-7. page 84
  9. ^ Indianapolis 500 Traditions :: Official site of the Indianapolis 500

References

  • The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. John Kieschnick. Published 2003. Princeton University Press . ISBN 0691096767.
  • A World History of Architecture. Michael W. Fazio, Marian Moffett, Lawrence Wodehouse. Published 2003. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0071417516.
  • Psycho-cosmic symbolism of the Buddhist stupa. A.B. Govinda. 1976, Emeryville, California. Dharma Publications.

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PAGODA (Port. pagode, a word introduced in the 16th century by the early Portuguese adventurers in India, reproducing phonetically some native word, possibly Pers. but-kadah, a house for an idol, or some form of Sansk. bhagavat, divine, holy), an Eastern term for a temple, especially a building of a pyramid shape common in India and the Far East and devoted to sacred purposes; in Buddhist countries, notably China, the name of a many-sided tower in which are kept holy relics. More loosely "pagoda" is used in the East to signify any non-Christian or non-Mussulman place of worship. Pagoda or pagod was also the name given to a gold (occasionally also silver) coin, of about the value of seven shillings, at one time current in southern India. From this meaning is derived the expression "the pagoda tree," as synonymous with the "wealth of the Indies," whence the phrase to "shake the pagoda tree." There is a real tree, the Plumieria acuminata, bearing the name. It grows in India, and is of a small and graceful shape, and bears yellow and white flowers tinged with red.


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