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Silver Pagoda
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2021.09.27 16:37:12


Period: Song dynasty (960-1279 CE)
Measurements: 13.5cm (incomplete), 142g in weight
Provenance: Unearthed at the Songyue Temple, Dengfeng, Henan, 1989

Being an eleven-storied hollow pavilion-style pagoda, it shrinks from the bottom to the finial floor by floor. The four sides of the eaves of each floor were sloping, with wind bell hanging on each corner, which was derived from an ancient Indian custom of hanging banners, ornaments, along with the bells on the Buddhist pagodas inside the temples, acting as the instruments to demonstrate the sacredness of the Buddhism.
Initially named as “Xianju Temple”, Songyue temple was mentioned to be “Jueju Temple” in Record of Buddhist Temples in Luoyang by Yang Xuanzhi, in the second year of Renshou period of Sui dynasty, it was renamed as “Songyue Temple”. Built in the Four Year of Zhengguang period in the Northern Wei dynasty (523 CE), it is the earliest among the extant brick pagodas in China, which remains roughly the same in appearance with the prototype of Northern Wei dynasty when it was built, except for the finial which was reconstructed during the Tang and Song period.
According to the historic texts, Buddha tooth relics was kept in the pagoda, which was confirmed by the archaeological finds, three places were discovered with it inside the pagoda, one is the “underground palace” in the underground, the other two were in the “heaven palace” in the finial, the present silver pagoda, in the collection of Henan Museum, was discovered in the Xianglun (wheel) in one of them, along with other sacred Buddhist relics such as ceramic vase, pots containing śarīras, and sarira.