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Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, also known as the Porcelain Pagoda of the Grand Bao'en Temple, was a product of the Ming Dynasty, probably commissioned by an emperor and constructed during the 15th century.
Nanjing, China
 
7 Medieval Wonders of the World
 
It was located on the South Bank of Yangtze River in Nanjing Territory in China. This tower was 260 feet high octagonal (with eight corners) in shape with 97 feet in diameter. At the time of its construction it was the largest building in China.
 
The Porcelain Tower of Nanking[1]

 

The Porcelain Tower (or Porcelain Pagoda) of Nanjing , also known as Bao'ensi (meaning "Temple of Gratitude"), is a historical site located on the south bank of the Yangtze in Nanjing, China. It was a pagoda constructed in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty, but was mostly destroyed in the 19th century during the course of the Taiping rebellion. The tower is now under reconstruction.

 

Description
The original blocks of the Nanjing Tower's arched door, now pieced back together and on display at the Nanjing MuseumThe tower was octagonal with a base of about 97 ft in diameter. When it was built, the tower was one of the largest buildings in China, rising up to a height of 260 feet with nine stories and a staircase in the middle of the pagoda, which spiraled upwards for 130 steps. The top of the roof was marked by a golden sphere. There were originally plans to add more stories, according to an American missionary who in 1852 visited Nanjing. There are only a few Chinese pagodas that surpass its height, such as the still existent 275 ft tall 11th-century Liaodi Pagoda in Hebei or the non-existent 330 ft tall 7th-century wooden pagoda of Chang'an.

The tower was built with white porcelain bricks that were said to reflect the sun's rays during the day, and at night as many as 140 lamps were hung from the building to illuminate the tower. Glazes and stoneware were worked into the porcelain and created a mixture of green, yellow, brown and white designs on the sides of the tower, including animals, flowers and landscapes. The tower was also decorated with numerous Buddhist images.


History
The original blocks of the Nanjing Tower's arched door, now pieced back together and on display at the Nanjing MuseumThe Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was designed during reign of the Yongle Emperor (r. 1402-1424) shortly before its construction, in the early 15th century. It was first discovered by the Western world when European travelers visited it, sometimes listing it as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After this exposure to the outside world, the tower was seen as a national treasure to both locals and other cultures around the world.

In 1801, the tower was struck by lightning and the top three stories were knocked off, but it was soon restored. The 1843 book The Closing Events of the Campaign in China by Granville Gower Loch contains a detailed description of the tower as it existed in the early 1840s. In the 1850s, the area surrounding the tower erupted in civil war as the Taiping Rebellion reached Nanjing and the Taiping Rebels took over the city. They smashed the Buddhist images and destroyed the inner staircase to deny the Qing enemy an observation platform. American sailors reached the city in May 1854 and visited the hollowed tower. In 1856, the Taiping destroyed the tower in order to prevent a hostile faction from using it to observe and shell the city. After this point, the tower's remnants were forgotten and it lay dormant until a recent surge to try and rebuild the landmark.[2]

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References
 
1. The Porcelain Tower of Nanking-retrieved 7/19/2009
2. Wikipedia-The Porcelain Tower of Nanking-retrieved 7/19/2009
 
 
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