Built in 707 AD in the Tang Dynasty, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was initially called "Jianfu Pagoda", and had this new name in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was originally a fifteen-story multi-eaved brick pagoda. Due to many earthquakes, its top part was completely damaged and its body developed cracks. In 1965, the Chinese government renovated the pagoda using materials and techniques that are exactly the same as those used for building it.
Presently, it stands at a height of 43.38 meters, with a pedestal, body, and top. Sitting on an underground palace, this square shaped pedestal has a brick shell with clay core, a height of 3.2 meters, and a perimeter of 23.38 meters. The body of the pagoda has a brick frame built around a hollow interior. Brick stairs can be followed up the internal wall of the body.
The pagoda's outer contours are naturally elegant convex curve that is similar to the entasis curve in Greek architecture. Each story has gradually tiered dense eaves. There are arched windows in the south and north walls of the second and higher stories. With the overall structure being well preserved, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was a perfect example of the multi-eaved square brick pagodas built in ancient China. In 1961, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was listed by the State Council of China as one of the First Batch of State-level Key Cultural Relics Protection Units.
Jainfu Temple (Felicity Temple), built in the eight century is a famous royal Buddhist temple in the Chang'an, the name for Xi'an in the ancient China. Xiaoyan Pagoda (Small Wild Goose Pagoda) is a Buddhist construction in Jianfu Temple. Both the Temple and the Pagoda are regarded as rare cultural relics from the Tang Dynasty which is regarded as the golden age in Chinese history with its capital Chang'an as the most majestic city in the world at that time.
The past glory of the Temple has long gone during the turbulent years in ancient China with only the Pagoda standing firm in it which has become a landmark of the city and has been attracting visitors from home and abroad ever since the Tang Dynasty.
Today the Tang Dynasty Pagoda and the Temple complex reconstructed in the Ming and Qing Dynasty style stand as a witness to the thousand year development of Xi'an City and are treasured as important historic and cultural legacy for its people.
Xiaoyan Pagoda and Jianfu Temple in the Tang Dynasty
Juanfu Temple enjoyed high reputation and widespread popularity in the Tang Dynasty when Buddhism flourished. Buddhist ceremonies were frequently held in the Temple. Large numbers of accomplished monks from home and abroad gathered here for study and research purpose. A great number of Buddhist scriptures were also translated here which made the place the third largest Buddhist scripture translation center in China. Therefore, the Temple became a culture center for people from all walks of life, including the royal family members, the nobled, men of letters, refined scholars and the commoners.
Xiaoyan Pagoda and the Jianfu Temple from the Song to the Qing Dynasties
By the end of the Tang Dynasty, Jianfu Temple had gone into ruins due to the frequent wars, but Xiaoyan Pagoda stood firm as usual. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Pagoda and the Temple were renovated. Their function and importance still remain till today.
Xiaoyan Pagoda and Jianfu temple in Modern and ContemporaryEra
Xiaoyan Pagoda was occupied as a military stronghold and was severely damaged during the period of the Republic of China when the whole country was suffering from social unrest and ceaseless wars. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the government erected a monument to clain the protection of the pagoda, which became the first step towards protecting and maintaining of the Pagoda in a scientific manner.
The Historic value of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda:
Masterpiece of the Buddhist Pagoda and Venue for Sutra Translation
Originated as the tomb tower in ancient India, Buddhist pagoda took its original style in as early as the 3rd Century BC as one of the typical Buddhist constructions. The construction style of the densely arranged eaves of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda is the precious proof for the introduction of Indian Buddhist Pagoda into China in the Tang Dynasty and the embodiment of the cultural communication and merging of east and West. The Jianfu Temple which housed the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was originally an imperial temple in the Tang Dynasty, where there was a state run "Sutra Translation Institute", one of the three venues for sutra translation in the then Chang'an City. As one religious site, the temple has witnessed the introduction of Indian Buddhism in China and the cultural communication along the ancient Silk Road.
The ancient "Silk Road" was started in about the 2nd Century BC as the artery for long distance trade and cultural communication between ancient Europe and Asia. It was once the important arena for communications and talks between East and West. Starting from Chang'an City of China, the Silk Road extended westward through Mid-Asia to the Mediterranean, where it turned southward to lead to the sub-continent of South Asia. It is through this road that Budhhism which was originated in India was introduced into China in around the 1st Century, where it gradually developed into one of the mainstream religions of China. Built during the prime of the "Silk Road", the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was a representative Buddhist pagoda of that period.
Built in the Jinglong Period of the Tang Dynasty (707 AD- 710 AD), the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was a Buddhist Pagoda of the Jianfu temple in the capitol city of Chang'an. The Jianfu Temple was one famous Buddhist temple in Chang'an City during the Tang Dynasty. Later because Master Yijing who had visited India for Buddhist sutras organized Buddhist sutra translation there the temple became one of the "Three Buddhist Sutra Translation Venues of Chang'an City in the history of Buddhist translation history of China. As the witness of the prosper of Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda has been in existence for over 1,300 years and is still soundly preserved. Besides, it is the oldest pagoda typical of the square brick pagoda with densely arranged eaves in the Tang Dynasty.