THE PORCELAIN TOWER OF NANJING

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, also known as Bao’ensi (meaning “Temple of Gratitude”) is a historical site located on the south bank of the Yangtze in Nanjing, China. It was a pagoda constructed in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty, but was mostly destroyed in the 19th century during the course of the Taiping Rebellion.

The tower was octagonal with a base of about 97 ft in diameter. When it was built, the tower was one of the largest buildings in China, rising up to a height of 260 feet with nine stories and a staircase in the middle of the pagoda, which spiraled upwards for 130 steps. The top of the roof was marked by a golden sphere. There were originally plans to add more stories, according to an American missionary who in 1852 visited Nanjing. There are only a few Chinese pagodas that surpass its height, such as the still existent 275 ft tall 11th-century Liaodi Pagoda in Hebei or the no longer existent 330 ft tall 7th-century wooden pagoda of Chang’an.

The tower was built with white porcelain bricks that were said to reflect the sun’s rays during the day, and at night as many as 140 lamps were hung from the building to illuminate the tower. Glazes and stoneware were worked into the porcelain and created a mixture of green, yellow, brown and white designs on the sides of the tower, including animals, flowers and landscapes. The tower was also decorated with numerous Buddhist images.

Interesting And Fun Facts About Porcelain Tower Of Nanjing 

  • Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was designed by the Chinese Emperor Yongle, shortly before its construction in the 15th century.
  • The Tower was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World during the MedievalAges.
  • Porcelain Tower was octagonal in shape at the base and the top of its roof was marked by a golden sphere.
  • With its nine stories, the tower went up to a height of 260 feet, at the time it was built. One had to climb 130 steps of the spiral staircase, built in the middle of the tower, to reach the top floor.
  • Porcelain Tower was one of the tallest buildings in China, when it was constructed.
  • The Tower was built using white porcelain bricks, which reflected the sun rays during daytime and thus, helped the tower to stay cool.
  • During the nighttime, Porcelain Tower was illuminated with over 100 lamps hung from the building, with a golden sphere on the top of it to give a stunning appearance.
  • The porcelain bricks of the Tower were adorned with glazes and stoneware that created a blend of green, yellow, white and brown designs on the sides, depicting the images of animals, flowers and landscapes.
  • In 1801, a powerful bolt of lighting hit Porcelain Tower of Nanjing and destroyed its top three stories. However, they were soon restored.
  • ‘The Closing Events of the Campaign in China’, a book written by Granville Gower Loch in 1843, contains a detailed description of the tower as it existed in the early 1840s.
  • It is believed that the original plan for the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing comprised of 13 stories with a total height of about 330 feet.
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~ by ferry1984 on August 16, 2011.

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