Yuanying Temple Pagoda, Thousands of Years of History
Reporters: Wang Jiangang, Sun Bing, Li Jianglong, Wu Qian, Zhang Na, Feng Tianlun from Changli Channel
Changli is located to the south of Jieshi Mountain and to the north of the Bohai Sea. With its splendid natural environment and numerous man-made sceneries, it is really a place propitious for giving birth to great men. Its long history has left many cultural relics and historic sites, the most famous of which is the Yuanying Temple Pagoda located in downtown Changli. Welcome to today’s episode of the serial report “I love my hometown - generous gifts from history”- Yuanying Temple Pagoda, thousands of years of history.
Wu Qian, reporter: The pagoda is a common building and is mainly related to Buddhism. In Qinhuangdao, there are five existing ancient pagodas. The one with the most important historical, artistic and scientific value is the one behind me---Changli Yuanying Temple Pagoda.
Yuanying Temple Pagoda is located in the west of the center of Changli County. It covers an area of 90 square meters and is 36 meters high. It consists of four parts: the floor, the pedestal, the tower and the top of the tower. It is a brick and wood structure pagoda with eight facades and thirteen floors. Judging from its architectural technique and carving delicacy, it is rare among existing ancient pagodas in China.
Jin Wenzhen, Director of Changli County Cultural Relics Research and Protection Management Institute: The most distinctive part is the sky pavilion above the base of lotus flower, which is the largest in China's existing ancient pagodas. It was built very beautifully and has the most exquisite and delicate little Buddha statue in the niche.
Main text:There is a legend in folklore about the origin of the pagoda. A long time ago, there was a water demon who often plagued victims with floods, and was later trapped by the heavens under the Jieshi Mountain to prevent future floods. Since then, there is a 13-storey pagoda under the Jieshi Mountain. Soon, here again, Yuanying temple was built in accordance with the pagoda. This pagoda was therefore named "Yuanying Temple pagoda".
Wang Zhixin, local resident: pagodas are said to be able to imprison river demons. Therefore, this pagoda, as legend goes, has been protecting people, so the flood is gone.
Main text:Apparently, the credibility of legends passed from generation to generation is not high. There is a stele forest not far from the ancient pagoda. Wang Zhixin said that there was a stone stele in it, which recorded another legend about the Yuanying Temple Pagoda.
Wu Qian, reporter: where was the stele before?
Wang Zhixin, local resident: it was high up on this wall. It said that the construction was supervised by Yuchi Jingde, a brave general during Tang Dynasty, and the pagoda was in the shape of his weapon—metal chain.
Wu Qian, reporter: and where is the stele now?
Wang Zhixin, local resident: it was destroyed in the Great Leap Forward Movement of 1958.
If the shape of the pagoda follows that of the shape of metal chain of Yuchi Jingde, then it could have been built in the Tang Dynasty. Can this be true?
Jin Wenzhen, Director of Changli County Cultural Relics Research and Protection Management Institute: this statement that it was built in the Tang Dynasty is probably not true. First of all, it was recorded in the county records that the pagoda was repeatedly rebuilt in the Jiajing and Wanli years of the Ming Dynasty. No record before the Ming Dynasty was found. For Changli County, it is so big a deal to build a pagoda that is impossible not to find related records in the annals of county. Secondly, through archaeology, it was discovered that in the pagoda there are many bricks with a tick pattern unique to the Liao and Jin Dynasties and some coins of the same period. Based on this, we judged that this ancient pagoda was built during the Liao(916-1123) and Jin(1115-1234) Dynasties.
In addition to the findings in the pagoda, the architectural regulation of the pagoda can also confirm the statement it was built during the Liao and Jin Dynasties.
Jin Wenzhen, Director of Changli County Cultural Relics Research and Protection Management Institute: the tower base and the first floor are very tall, and the outer wall is thick and symmetric. In the part of the tower base and the tower body, that is, where people gather their sights, there are usually various characters and patterns carved. All of these are the characteristics of pagodas of the Liao and Jin Dynasties.
After thousands of years of wind and rain, the Yuanying Temple has long been damaged, and still stands with no religious meaning any more, and has become a witness to the history and culture of Changli. Due to its unique architectural form, the temple has also become the landmark of Changli County. On June 25, 2001, it was officially listed by the State Council in the fifth batch of national key cultural relics protection units.
Song Guiping is a native of Changli. She has lived near the ancient pagoda since she was born. Time flies, and she has grown a deep feeling for the ancient pagoda. Now, Song Guiping and her husband will go around the ancient pagoda as long as they have time to recall the good memory of the old days.
Song Guiping, Local resident: when I was young, I loved this pagoda very much. Every day I would come here and play, surrounded by wind bells: the chime was loud, crisp, and especially nice.
However, since the construction of the tower, for thousands of years, wind erosion and rain have inevitably caused damage to the ancient pagoda. Especially in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, the ancient tower was slightly damaged.
Jin Wenzhen, Director of Changli County Cultural Relics Research and Protection Management Institute: at that time the roof had been completely damaged, with a crack of more than 80 centimetres. The whole body tilted and moved more than 80 centimetres.
In order to protect the ancient pagoda, in March 1983, the maintenance work of the Yuanying Temple was officially started. By June 1987, the project was completed and the restored facade of the Yuanying Temple pagoda recreated the original historical features. Regrettably, due to lack of funds, the rebuilding of 30 years ago repaired only the surface of the ancient pagoda. The correction work of the inclined tower body was not carried out. Therefore, the pagoda is still a leaning tower with huge safety risks.
Wu Qian, reporter: today, the Yuanying Temple Pagoda has become a museum that displays the ancient history of the ancient Jieshi area and Changli County. I hope that the relevant departments can pay attention to the protection of the cultural relics, protect the ancient pagoda, and pass it down from generation to generation.