Twin Pagodas, Luohanyuan Temple

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Wang Wenhan and Wang Wehua

Suzhou, Jiangsu, China; 982

The pagoda is the building type that above all others signifies Chinese culture to the outside world, so it has become emblematic of China itself, even though it was built only by Buddhists. A development of the Indian stupa, the pagoda might be used to mark an important site or to house relics of the Buddha’s disciples. The parasol forms seen in the stupa were reinterpreted as a series of projecting roofs that get smaller as the building tapers in its ascent.

Unlike the stupa, the pagoda had some usable interior space, but its arrangement in small rooms one ...

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