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North side of the Chaoyang North Pagoda (朝陽北塔 北面) during the 2019 restoration Van Cutsem, Laurent

Description

The eleven images show the north side of the Chaoyang North Pagoda (朝陽北塔), which locates at the Shuangta district (雙塔區) in Liaoning Province (遼寧省), China. This pagoda was originally built around 485 during the Northern Wei (北魏, 386-534), but it was destroyed and reconstructed multiple times during the course of its history. The first reconstruction happened during the beginning of the Sui (隨) dynasty (581-618). Around or after 602, the North Pagoda was again reconstructed, and later on restored in 738 during the Tianbao (天寶) era (742–756) of the Tang (唐) dynasty (618-907). The pagoda follows a four-sided plan and illustrates the "Buddhas of the Five Directions" (wǔfāng fó 五方佛), with Ratnasambhava (Bǎoshēng rúlái 寶生如來) on the South face, Amitābha (Āmítuó fó 阿彌陀佛) on the West, Amoghasiddhi (Bùkōngchéngjiùfó 不空成就佛) on the North face, Akṣobhya (Āchù fó 阿閦佛) on the East face, and Vairocana (Pílúzhēnà fó 毘盧遮那佛) being represented by the pagoda itself, in the center. The pagoda consists of the base, the main body where four of the Buddhas of the Five Directions are carved, the eaves and the finial. In 1988, a crypt or chamber (tiāngōng 天宮) was discovered inside the twelfth eave of the pagoda, containing a great number of precious and valuable objects, including relics. The North wall of the crypt is carved with the mandala of the Vairocana Buddha surrounded by the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Bādàpúsà 八大菩薩). At the center of the pagoda, we also find a four-storey dhāraṇī pillar.

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