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The porcelain pagoda of the Pao-en-szu of Nanking


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Credit: The porcelain pagoda of the Pao-en-szu of Nanking. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Pictorial map of the porcelain pagoda (or stupa) of the Pao-en-szu of Nanking. In Chinese, the pagoda was called Bao'ensi, the 'Temple of Gratitude.' The Europeans called it the 'Porcelain Tower' and considered it one of the wonders of the world. The pagoda had an octagonal base about 30 meters in diameter and was nine stories, or about 80 meters high. It was covered with porcelain bricks, which during the night were lighted by as many as 140 lamps. The tiles had colourful images of animals, landscapes, flowers, and bamboo. No records of the origin of its construction have been preserved but we know it was restored in 1808. This illustration, acquired by Wellcome in 1840, obviously represents the final look of this famous monument. The pagoda was destroyed during the Taiping rebellion in China (1853 - 1864).


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