Thursday, November 22, 2007

Porcelain Tower of Nanjing

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing China

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (Bao’ensi = Temple of Gratitude) ChinaPorcelain Tower of Nanjing

Bao’ensi = Temple of Gratitude

Not so long ago,

This Buddhist Pagoda known as the Porcelain Tower does not exist now; yet in history this magnificent tower that radiated sunrays and functioned as a center of pilgrimage stands tall among world wonders. As per records this Buddhist Pagoda was constructed by a Chinese Emperor by name Yung le in the 15th century. It was located on the South Bank of Yangtze River in Nanjing Territory in China. This tower was 260 feet high octagonal (with eight corners) in shape with 97 feet in diameter. At the time of its construction it was the largest building in China. It existed up to the middle of the 19th century and the outside world came to know of its existence through the European travelers visited the area.

A war and one victim!

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (Bao’ensi = Temple of Gratitude) ChinaPorcelain Tower of Nanjing Map

At present the details furnished by those travelers (among them there were historians mathematicians, sailors and explorers) are the only sources through which modern man can get a peep hole in to one of the Seven Manmade Wonders that existed for four centuries and got destroyed in course of time. 1843 book of Granville Gover Loch has reference about this tower. ‘Plan of Civil and Historical Architecture’ (published in 1721) by Fischer von Erlach has given a beautiful illustration of this Buddhist Pagoda standing in a valley with beautiful hills in the back-ground.

Manmade and man-destroyed!

This Buddhist Pagoda had to face two damages the first was a bolt of lightening that struck in 1801 and its top got ripped off; this god made disaster could be repaired but the manmade disaster in the shape of Taiping Revolution was detrimental and marked its end. The rebels who took control of the area (1840-1850) smashed the stairs to stop others from using it as a platform. Some American sailors visited the area have reported to have seen a hollow structure. Later the rebels destroyed (1856) even the remaining parts of this beautiful structure in vengeance. The remnants of the structure were lying uncared for years and recently the Chinese Government has taken interest in the rich ancestry of their nation and started to rebuild the structure in the same style.

Those shining four centuries!

In its golden times the Porcelain Tower was covered with superior quality white and shining porcelain bricks interlaid with colored stones; during days that reflected sunrays bathing the entire area in light and during nights numerous (reported to be 140 in number) lights were hung to illuminate the beautiful pictures (imprinted by glazes and stoneware) of flowers, animals, landscapes and Buddhist images. Its large spire originated from the eighth floor stood all the way up to the roof. It is believed that the spiral staircase had 140 steps that matched with the number of the lamps that illuminated the outer wall.

The structure of all East

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (Bao’ensi = Temple of Gratitude) ChinaThe Porcelain Pagoda, as illustrated in Fischer von Erlach's Plan of Civil and Historical Architecture

Ever since its construction as a shrine it was a pilgrim centre for the Buddhists and it still pulls crowds. The recent endorsement as one of Seven Manmade Wonders of the World has added its attraction to the site. This temple has been exclaimed as a sublimely elegant example of Buddhist Architecture by those who have seen it in first person and the French Mathematician Le Compte who happened to visit the site during the early 19th century has rightly written “The best contrived and the structure of all the east”, this remark contain all.

No comments: