Dule Monastery, White Pagoda 獨樂寺白塔



  • White Pagoda (English)
  • 白塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 白塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Bái tǎ (Pinyin)
  • Pai-t'a (Wade-Giles)
  • Dulesi Baita (English)
  • 獨樂寺白塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 独乐寺白塔 (Simplified Chinese)


  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 40.042022° Long. 117.403283°
  • Site Information

    Located the southwest of Ji County 薊州, Tianjin Municipality 天津市, the White Pagoda (Baita 白塔) is also known as the Dule si ta 獨樂寺塔 (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 83).1

    Although the exact construction date of the White Pagoda is unknown, in his 1930s report, Liang Sicheng 梁思成 believed the original construction should date to the Liao dynasty (916-1125) (Liang 1932, 94). Because pagodas (ta 塔) during the Tang dynasty (618-907) commonly had a square ground plans, the octagonal-shape ground plan suggests White Pagoda was originally constructed after that time, likely in the tenth century (Liang 1932, 95).2

    The White Pagoda aligns with the central north-south axis that extends from the Guanyin Pavilion (Guanyin ge 觀音閣) at Dule Monastery (Dule si 獨樂寺). It is located 380 meters south of the monastery (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 83). Thus, Liang Sicheng suggested that the construction of the White Pagoda followed the construction of the Dule Monastery and the White Pagoda may have originally been part of this larger complex (Liang 1932, 93). Nancy Steinhardt also agrees on that the White Pagoda must be interpreted as an extension of Dule Monastery (Steinhardt 1997, 53). Standing at the third floor of its Guanyin Pavilion, one can easily see the White Pagoda directly to its south (Steinhardt 1997, 53).3

    The White Pagoda is 30.6 meters high (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 112). The foundation is made of granite (Liang 1932, 95). It was damaged in the Tangshan earthquake 唐山大地震 in 1976 and it was rebuilt in the spring 1983 (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 119). During the repair in 1983, earlier Liao dynasty layers were found within the ca. 60-100 cm thick exterior brick layer 包磚層 (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 83). The enclosed pagoda consisted of a waisted monumental Sumeru base 束腰須彌座, a pavilion-shaped octagonal double-eaves body 八角重檐亭式塔身, and a stupa 窣堵波 (覆鉢) (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 85). The exterior of the pagoda is made of brick carved with dougong-shaped designs, floral patterns and mythical animals (Tianjin lishi bowuguan kaogudui 1989, 119).4

    The pagoda is largely solid brick within which were found two vertically aligned crypts. A short finial extends from the ceiling of the upper crypt through the top of the pagoda (Lin 2016, 112). Archeologists also found a two-layer reliquary within the central crypt. Although the wooden interior layer had decayed, the outer stone reliquary was engraved on three sides with the names of Han Zhibai 韓知白, Qin Jian 秦鑒 and the monk Sixiao 思孝, as well as documentation of donations of Buddhist relics. Steinhardt suggests the relics were interred here so they could be protected by the watchful eye of the Guanyin in Dule Monastery (Steinhardt 1997, 55).5

    Date original construction ca. 10th century (?); reconstructed in 1058
    Dynasty Reconstructed in Liao 916 - 1125 6

    External Links

    Works Cited

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

    • 1 天津市历史博物馆考古队. 1989. 天津蓟县独乐寺塔, 83.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 梁. 1932. 薊縣觀音寺白塔記, 94,95.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 梁. 1932. 薊縣觀音寺白塔記, 93.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 天津市历史博物馆考古队. 1989. 天津蓟县独乐寺塔, 83.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; STEINHARDT. 1997. Liao Architecture, 53.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 4 梁. 1932. 薊縣觀音寺白塔記, 95.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 天津市历史博物馆考古队. 1989. 天津蓟县独乐寺塔, 83, 85,112,119.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; LIN. 2016. Performing center in a vertical rise: Multilevel pagodas in China's middle period, 112.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 5 STEINHARDT. 1997. Liao Architecture, 54, 55.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 6 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, White Pagoda獨樂寺白塔 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified December 16, 2021, https://architecturasinica.org/place/000024d.


    HUANG Danni 黄聃婗, “Dule Monastery, White Pagoda獨樂寺白塔 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by . Entry published March 21, 2018. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000024d.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Dule Monastery, White Pagoda獨樂寺白塔

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • HUANG Danni 黄聃婗, entry contributor, “Dule Monastery, White Pagoda獨樂寺白塔

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    • Data entry, adding notes, links and citations 2021 by HUANG Danni 黄聃婗
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    • Editing and proof correction Tracy Miller
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