Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

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Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China. It was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty and originally had five stories.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, and its exterior brick facade was renovated during the Ming dynasty. One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The original pagoda was built during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang (r. 649-683), then standing at a height of 54 m (177 ft). However, this construction of rammed earth with a stone exterior facade collapsed five decades later.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The ruling Empress Wu Zetian had the pagoda rebuilt and added five new stories by the year 704; however, a massive earthquake in 1556 heavily damaged the pagoda and reduced it by three stories, to its current height of seven stories.The entire structure leans very perceptibly (several degrees) to the west.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Its related structure, the 8th century Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, only suffered minor damage in the 1556 earthquake (unrepaired to this day). The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was extensively repaired during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and renovated again in 1964. The pagoda currently stands at a height of 64 m (210 ft) tall and from the top it offers views over the current city of Xi'an.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

As for the reason why it is called Big Wild Goose Pagoda, there is a legend. According to ancient stories of Buddhists, there were two branches, for one of which eating meat was not a taboo. One day, they couldn't find meat to buy. Upon seeing a group of big wild geese flying by, a monk said to himself: 'Today we have no meat.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

I hope the merciful Bodhisattva will give us some.' At that very moment, the leading wild goose broke its wings and fell to the ground. All the monks were startled and believed that Bodhisattva showed his spirit to order them to be more pious. They established a pagoda where the wild goose fell and stopped eating meat. Hence its name.

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