Dule Monastery, Mountain Gate  獨樂寺山門



  • Mountain Gate (English)
  • 山門 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 山门 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Shānmén (Pinyin)
  • Shan-men (Wade-Giles)
  • Dulesi Shanmen (English)
  • 獨樂寺山門 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 独乐寺山门 (Simplified Chinese)


  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 40.045342° Long. 117.402597°
  • Site Information

    Built in the Liao dynasty, the Mountain Gate (Shanmen 山门) is the oldest extant monastery gate with a hipped roof (wudian廡殿) in China (Ding 2016, 40). The wooden plaque inscribed with its name, “Dulesi,” was believed to be written by the Ming dymasty senior secretary (daxueshi 大学士) Yan Song 嚴嵩.1

    The Mountain Gate is roughly ten meters in height, three bays wide, and two bays deep (4.36 x 6.10 m) (Liang 1932). As the only surviving Liao gate, it exhibits architectural components similar to the Guanyin Pavilion behind it (Steinhardt 1997, 38). The main types of dougong 斗拱 shown in the Mountain Gate include: bracket sets on the pillar-tops 柱頭鋪作, corner bracket arms 轉角鋪作, intercolumnar bracket sets 補間鋪作, shadow bracket arms 影栱, and corner spanning bracket arms (mojiao bracket sets 抹角栱) —— some of them can be seen in the structure of the Guanyin Pavilion as well. The dougong of the Mountain Gate is about one-half of the height of the pillars (lizhu 立柱) below, which is consistent with Tang architectural style (Liang 1932).2

    In addition to the monumental dougong, the historical significance of the Mountain Gate also lies in the two Kongo Rikishi (vajra-warriors 金剛力士) — heng 哼and ha 哈 — guardians standing at either side of the entrance. Scholars regard them as the oldest extant clay examples of Kongo Rikishi in China (Ding 2016, 144). Moreover, the ceramic chiwei 鴟尾 (owl tails) on top of the Mountain gate are the oldest existing chiwei elements in China, and Liang Sicheng called them “extremely rare objects” (Ding 2016, 116).3

    Date 984
    Dynasty Liao 916 - 1125 4

    External Links

    Works Cited

    Any information without attribution has been created following the Syriaca.org editorial guidelines.

    • 1 丁. 2016. 蓟县独乐寺山门, 40.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 梁. 1932. 薊縣獨樂寺觀音閣山門考Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; STEINHARDT. 1997. Liao Architecture, 38.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 丁. 2016. 蓟县独乐寺山门, 144, 116.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 4 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    Contained in Place

    How to Cite This Entry

    HUANG Danni 黄聃婗, “Dule Monastery, Mountain Gate 獨樂寺山門 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified July 5, 2021, https://architecturasinica.org/place/000024b.


    HUANG Danni 黄聃婗, “Dule Monastery, Mountain Gate 獨樂寺山門 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by . Entry published March 21, 2018. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000024b.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Dule Monastery, Mountain Gate 獨樂寺山門

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • HUANG Danni 黄聃婗, entry contributor, “Dule Monastery, Mountain Gate 獨樂寺山門

    Additional Credit:

    • Data entry, adding notes, links and citations 2021 by HUANG Danni 黄聃婗
    • Editing and proof correction Tracy Miller
    • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
    • adding external links 2021 by HUANG Danni 黄聃婗

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