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History of White Dagoba Temple

White Dagoba Temple Index | Architecture | History
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White Dagoba Temple is a Lamaist temple. Lamaism is a branch of Buddhism. Nepal was one of the sources of early Buddhism. Lamaism was introduced to china during the Tang Dynasty but was not widespread until the Yuan Dynasty. It became popular especially in Tibet. During the same period inverted-bowl-style dagobas were widely adopted by Lamaist monasteries. The oldest extant large-scale Lamaist dagoba is the White Dagoba at Beijing's Miaoying Temple also called White Dagoba Temple. It was designed and built by a Nepalese artisan, Anika.

The White Dagoba has its own history of more than 700 years. It was initially built from 1271 to 1279 during the Yuan Dynasty and was designed and constructed by a famous Nepali at that time. In the same year after the dagoba was built, a magnificent temple was constructed with the dagoba as its centerpiece. Altogether, this Nepali built three dagobas in the whole of China, one in Tibet, one in Wutai Mountain, in Shanxi Province (one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China) and the third one here in White Dagoba Temple. These dagobas are the combinations of Chinese and Nepalese cultures.

The construction of dagobas on a large scale reflected the exploitation of Lamaism by the ruling class during the Yuan Dynasty to carry out ideological domination. During the Ming and Qing dynasties Lamaism continued to develop in China and more Lamaist dagobas were erected. Dagnhas, in fact, became the main style for tombs of eminent Buddhists, monks and lamas alike, so they were also called monks' tombs. The most famous Lamaist dagobas include the White Dagoba at Tayuan Temple on Wutai Mountain, the White Dagoba at Beijing's Beihai Park, and the White Dagoba at Lianxing Temple by the Slimmer West Lake in Yangzhou. Sometimes a single temple has several dozen or several hundred such dagobas. Some pagodas built on vajrasanas or across roads also have such a structure on top.

In 1368 during the Yuan Dynasty, the Temple was destroyed by thunder and fire, only the dagoba remained intact. The Temple was reconstructed in 1457 during the Ming Dynasty and was repaired in the following dynasties. Most of the buildings you can now see inside the Temple were constructed in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).

Renovated in 1998 and 2003, this temple features the largest Tibetan pagoda (also called chorten, dagoba or stupa) in China, towering over the neighborhood at 51m (167 ft..) tall.


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