Kaibao Monastery, Iron Pagoda 開寶寺鐵塔



  • Iron Pagoda (English)
  • Tiětǎ (Pinyin)
  • T`ieh-t`a (Wade-Giles)
  • 鐵塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 铁塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Youguo Monastery Pagoda (English)
  • Youguosita (Pinyin)
  • 佑國寺塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 佑国寺塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Kaibao Monastery Iron Pagoda (English)
  • Kaibaosi tieta (Pinyin)
  • 開寶寺鐵塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 开宝寺铁塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Kaifeng Iron Pagoda (English)
  • Kaifengtieta (Pinyin)
  • 開封鐵塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 开封铁塔 (Simplified Chinese)


  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 34.816706° Long. 114.364919°
  • Site Information

    The Iron Pagoda, also known as the Youguo or Kaibao Monastery Pagoda, is a 55.08 m, 13-story octagonal structure located in Kaibao Monastery (Yang, et. al, eds. 656). Initiated in 1049 during the Northern Song dynasty, it was conceived as a replacement of an earlier timber pagoda that was struck down by lightning in 1044 (Zhang 93). Construction is believed to have taken approximately thirty years, and there were numerous subsequent renovations after the Song dynasty (Zhang 93). The original structure, also called Linggan Wood Pagoda or Fusheng Pagoda, was built to house a relic of the Buddha and was designed by the renowned architect Yu Hao under imperial commission (Cheng 226). After its destruction, Song Renzong (r. 1022-1063) ordered the Iron Pagoda to be built in its place with a similar design but using brick as a more durable material instead of timber (Zhang 93). The location was also shifted to higher ground from Fusheng cloister to Shangfang cloister within the same complex (Cheng 226). The exterior is glazed with a brown and green color so as to produce an iron-like shine, thus earning the pagoda its nickname. More than fifty different types of decorative motifs, such as Buddhist figures, auspicious creatures, and floral patterns, are found throughout the exterior of the structure, including the glazed walls, roofs, and supportive columns (Cheng 227). Overall, the Iron Pagoda demonstrates a masterful use of material that gives rise to both aesthetic appeal and durability, allowing it to withstand numerous earthquakes, floods, and storms over its almost thousand-year old history. It is now considered the oldest and tallest extant glazed brick building in ancient Chinese architecture (Zhang 92).

    鐵塔,又稱佑國寺塔或開寶寺塔,是一座開寶寺院內的高55.08米,十三層,八角建築物(楊,等656)。北宋1049年始建,用來替補早前於1044年遭雷擊焚毀的木塔 (張93)。大約耗時三十年竣工,宋朝後也屢有修葺 (張93)。作為前身的靈感木塔也稱福勝塔,為供奉佛舍利由皇家任命的著名建築師喻浩設計監工而成 (程 226)。遭雷火之災後,宋仁宗(1022-1063年在位)命人按原樣式重建佛塔,這次以更堅固抗燃的磚為建造材料 (張93)。同時,塔的位置也從開寶寺的福勝院移至更高處的上方院內 (程 226)。塔壁由綠褐色琉璃磚砌成,觀之酷似鐵鑄,鐵塔之稱也由此而來。整體裝飾精美華麗,磚上模製多達五十種豐富圖案,如佛教人物像、花卉、祥紋動物等,遍布壁身、屋簷、塔柱等各處 (程 227)。對材料大膽嚴謹的選用和優秀的建造工藝使得鐵塔將華美和牢固集於一身,近千年來於多次地震洪災中倖存。如今,它已是中國古建築中最老、最高的琉璃磚構件建築,具有極高的文物價值 (張92)。2

    Dynasty Northern Song 960 - 1127 1

    External Links

    Works Cited

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

    • 1 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 楊. 1986. 中國名勝詞典, 656.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 张. 2013. 开封佑国寺塔建筑分析, 93.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 程. 2018. 北宋开封铁塔的装饰艺术分析, 226.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

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    How to Cite This Entry

    Kaibao Monastery, Iron Pagoda 開寶寺鐵塔 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified October 2, 2020, https://architecturasinica.org/place/000283a.


    Kaibao Monastery, Iron Pagoda 開寶寺鐵塔 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller and Melanie Lu. Entry published April 10, 2020. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000283a.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Kaibao Monastery, Iron Pagoda 開寶寺鐵塔

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • Tracy Miller and Melanie Lu, editors, Architectura Sinica

    Additional Credit:

    • Initial research 2020 by Melanie Lu
    • Editing and proof correction Tracy Miller

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