Great Ci'en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda 大慈恩寺大雁塔


  • Great Wild Goose Pagoda (English)
  • Dayanta (English)
  • 大雁塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 大雁塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Dàyàntǎ (Pinyin)
  • Ta-yen-t’a (Wade-Giles)
  • Great Ci’en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda (English)
  • 大慈恩寺大雁塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 大慈恩寺大雁塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Ci'ensi Dayanta (English)


  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 34.219571° Long. 108.959166°
  • Building Information

    Dayanta, or the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, is a square, seven-story tower-style pagoda (louge shi ta 樓閣式塔) made of brick and located in the Great Ci’en Monastery, in southern Xi'an, Shaanxi. It is registered as a Major Historical and Cultural Site protected at the National Level. Dayanta was one of the essential landmarks of Chang’an, the capital of the Tang dynasty, and continues to be a landmark in today’s Xi’an. Dayanta was first built in the third year of Yonghui period (652 A.D) as a square five-story structure. According to the Da Tang Da Ci'ensi sanzang fashi zhuan 大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳, the pagoda was designed by Xuanzang (602–664) following images in sutras he had brought back with him from India. The initial proposal was for a stone futu (shi futu 石浮圖), however the decision was made to construct the ta 塔 of brick following the "system of the Western regions" (Xiyu zhidu 西域制度). It was 140 feet (chi 尺)wide with five storys reaching approximately 180 feet high including the finial. The Song period Chang'an zhi 長安志 characterized the original structure as a stupa (sudubo 窣堵波) to preserve hundreds of Buddhist statues and scriptures within Ci’en Monastery (Yang 2007, 3-4; T 2053.260). After the original structure's collapse, Wu Zetian (Wu Zhao, r. 690-705) supported the reconstruction of the monument, in this case into a seven-story (or, according to some sources, ten-story) brick pagoda (Wong 2018, 28). The tower was repaired during the Five Dynasties, and, during the Wanli period (1573-1620) of the Ming dynasty, brick walls were added to create its present appearance (Guojia wenwu ju 1998, 45).1

    The pagoda is 64.517 meters high, and the lowest story is 25.5 meters wide. The square foundation has side lengths from 45.5-48.5 meters. The whole pagoda imitates a wooden structure, with inward-sloping pillars and lintels (lan'e 闌額) made of brick. The pillars and lintels divide the wall surfaces into five to nine bays, depending on the floor--the first and second floors have nine bays; the third and fourth have seven bays; and from the fifth to the top floor, there are five bays on each side. Each leaning pillar supports a cap block (ludou 櫨枓) above which are corbeled eaves (diese chuyan 疊澀出檐) with water-chestnut shaped (lingjiao 菱角) triangular dentals. There are arched doorways in the central bay of each façade leading into square interior chambers. Inside the tower wooden staircases give access to the upper stories. The top of the pagoda is composed of flat bricks rising up to a pointed roof surmounted by a glazed ceramic gourd-shaped finial (tacha 塔剎). The limestone door lintel on the ground floor is carved in low relief, there are also Buddha niches and two Tang steles on either side of arched doorway on the south side. It was repaired again in 1954-1955, and in 1989 measurements indicated that the axis of the tower body deviated 1.005 meters to the northwest (Guojia wenwu ju 1998, 45).2

    Date 652-1620
    Dynasty Tang-Ming 618-1644 3

    External Links

    Works Cited

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

    • 1 楊. 2007. 唐長安慈恩寺大雁塔初創形制破解, 1-10.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; WONG. 2018. Buddhist Pilgrim-monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: the International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770, 28.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 国家文物局. 1998. 中国文物地图集. 陕西分册, II:45-46; 138-C1-1.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 国家文物局. 1998. 中国文物地图集. 陕西分册, II:45-46; 138-C1-1.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    Contained in Place

    Architectural Features

    How to Cite This Entry

    Tracy Miller et al., “Great Ci'en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda 大慈恩寺大雁塔 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified January 4, 2022,


    Tracy Miller et al., “Great Ci'en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda 大慈恩寺大雁塔 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by . Entry published December 8, 2021.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Great Ci'en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda 大慈恩寺大雁塔

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • Tracy Miller and XU Chuyuan 徐楚原, entry contributors, “Great Ci'en Monastery Great Wild Goose Pagoda 大慈恩寺大雁塔

    Additional Credit:

    • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
    • Editing and proof correction Tracy Miller Yuh-Fen Benda
    • Initial research by XU Chuyuan 徐楚原

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