The stupa, a hemispherical, domed, memorial monument initially built in ancient India, inspired the pagoda construction. Originally, these constructions represented holy mountains and were used to contain saints' and monarchs' relics or bones. They also could be used as mosques or temples.
Pagodas first appeared in China around the 5th century AD. Initially, they were built as observatories by astronomers who wanted to know when certain stars passed over or near their sites. As time went on, they became popular with farmers who built them in their rice fields to protect their crops from lightning strikes.
In Japan, pagodas were used as landmarks and sent up into the sky as fireworks during celebrations or religious events. They are still used in this way today at Japanese festivals such as Tanabata and O-Bon.
In the United States, pagodas have been used as houses of worship, museums, restaurants, and even factories. There is even one in Montreal that is a nightclub called Montparnasse.
Pagodas are made out of wood, but some modern ones are made out of concrete or steel as well.
They are very ornate and often have many stories attached to each pillar representing something special about the temple or church that contains it.
A pagoda is an Asian temple with an upward curving roof composed of bricks, stone, or wood. It was originally erected as a stupa at Viharas to honor Gautam Buddha. However, over time they transformed into churches.
Pagodas can be as small as a chapel or as large as a cathedral. They usually contain a number of rooms for religious ceremonies or teaching activities. The oldest known pagoda in China was built in 274 A.D. By 635 A.D., it had been adopted as one of the three official temples of Buddhism in China.
In Japan, a pagoda is called a kondorufu and they are mostly found in Buddhist temples. They date back as early as 752 A.D. but most were built between 805-840 A.D. by monks who fled Kyoto after its city wall was destroyed by an earthquake.
Today, pagodas can be found all over Asia including India, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Some buildings that are commonly called "pagodas" such as the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the Stupa of Sanchi in India, are not actually pagodas because they do not have any more than four sides.
Most pagodas were created for religious purposes, most generally Buddhist but occasionally Taoist, and were frequently placed in or near viharas. The pagoda derives from the ancient Indian stupa. In Japan, pagodas often contain bells which can be rung by hand or by water mechanism. When they are rung by hand, they make a pleasant sound; when driven by wind or water, they produce an unpleasant squeal.
In China, India and elsewhere, many pagodas also serve as watchtowers at boundaries or military outposts. They are tall structures that could be used as lookouts during battles or raids. Some pagodas are also used as jails or places of execution.
The term "pagoda" comes from the Sanskrit word "paigada" which means "staircase". This refers to the steps leading up to the top platform where the bell can be found.
During the Song dynasty (AD 979-1279), Chinese architects developed a new type of tower that combined the functions of lookout, beacon, and religious monument. Called "keangzan" ("eight-sided tower") after its main characteristic, it was mostly built on hills or cliffs where there was no danger of being attacked from below. These towers were usually made of wood and covered in clay or stone.
A pagoda is a multi-tiered tower seen in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.
Buddhist monks built many of these towers in Asia to house relics of the Buddha. They are still used in some Buddhist countries for this purpose. The first known pagoda in Japan was built in 752 at Tōdaiji Temple in Nara. It was followed by several others.
Pagodas have been important elements in Chinese and Japanese architecture for hundreds of years. But archaeologists believe that today's pagodas originated in India around 500 BC. During the Tang dynasty (618–906 AD), Chinese architects began copying designs from Indian temples and adding their own innovations. By the 11th century, large numbers of pagodas had been built in China, Japan, and their surrounding areas.
During this time, foreign visitors to East Asia would have seen many different types of buildings, some made of wood, some of stone, some with tiles, some not. What they wouldn't have seen often was a new type of building being constructed. When these structures were finished, they were often taller than anything else in the area.
A pagoda is a tiered structure with numerous eaves that is popular in Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.
There are about 7,000 living pagodas in 31 countries. About 95% of them are found in Asia, primarily in China, India, and Nepal. Only about 1% are found in North America.
The best-known pagoda is probably the Great Pagoda of Nanjing, built between 1366 and 1405. It was destroyed during the Ming dynasty but rebuilt after having been bombed by Japanese forces at the end of World War II. Today it is one of the most important cultural relics in China. There are also many other significant pagodas in China, such as Luoyang's White Cloud Temple and Zhenjiang's Five Dragon Temple.
Pagodas can be made of various materials, including stone, wood, metal, and ceramics. However, most are made of brick or stone and have a wooden base covered with stone slabs. The top of the pagoda usually has a pyramidal shape with several levels, each one representing a life goal of the Buddha. On some pagodas, there are also additional layers for daily goals and milestones.