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Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Brief Introduction

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is located in the  Jianfu Temple about one kilometer south of downtown Xi'an. Along with the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was an important landmark in Chang'an, Xi’an’s  name  when it was the  capital city in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Since it was smaller and built later than the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was named the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built in the year 707 A.D during the Tang Dynasty. Unlike the grand Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it is dainty and exquisite in its appearance. It is an important cultural relic and one of the remaining symbols of ancient Chang'an.

Covering an area of 16.3 hectares (40.4 acres), the Small Wild Goose Pagoda Scenic Area mainly consists of the Xi’an Museum, the ancient Jianfu Temple built in the year 684 A.D during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the famous Small Wild Goose Pagoda. The Xi’an Museum in the west displays more than 2,000 precious historical relics. Situated in  the central axis are the White-Clothing Pavilion, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, the Sutra Depository, the Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian) and the Maitreya Pavilion in the Jianfu Temple. Verdant trees, grass and beautiful flowers can be found throughout the time-honored building complex. Moreover, beside the museum sits a big circular square and an artificial lake with two stone arch bridges featuring delicate designs.The scenic area has become a wonderful leisure site for the appreciation of cultural relics, sightseeing and entertainment.

Background Knowledge

The Jianfu Temple, was originally located at Kaihuafang during  the Tang Dynasty Chang'an, and was the former residence of Princess Xiangcheng, a daughter of Tang Emperor Taizong. It was originally established in 684 AD in honor of Li Zhi -- Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty -- and its original name was the Xianfu Temple, which changed into the Jianfu Temple in 690 AD. It was a famous temple in Chang'an City during  the Tang Dynasty.

The temple was the place where the great translator Monk Yijing of the Tang Dynasty translated the Buddhist scriptures. Yijing set out by sea for India in search of Buddhist principles in 671. After traveling over 30 countries for 25 years, he came back to China with some 400 volumes of holy Sanskrit scriptures, and stayed in the Jianfu Temple. Yijing translated altogether 56 volumes of scriptures in the Jianfu Temple and wrote the book ‘Biography of Eminent Monks of the Tang Dynasty in Search of Buddhist Truth in India’, which is of great help for  the study of Chinese and Indonesian history and the cultural exchange. Now the only extant ancient architecture in the Jianfu Temple is the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

Legend of the Pagoda

There is a story about how the pagoda was built . When Yi Jing appealed to the imperial court for funds to build a pagoda so as to preserve the Buddhist scriptures, the Emperor Li Xian asked the Empress for advice as he often did. When she heard of this, she ordered all the imperial concubines and court maids to donate money for the construction of the pagoda .The ladies were so generous in their donations that there was still money left over even after the project was completed.

The “Magical Healing”

There is a story about the “magical healing” of the pagoda . In 1487 AD,  a six point  earthquake  occurred in Shaanxi Province. As a result, the pagoda was left with a one-foot crack(from the top to the bottom).Thirty-four years after the quake, there was another crack! Amazingly, the cracks healed overnight. The process was later called the “magical healing”. However, when repair work started after 1949, it was found that the healing was not “magical”, but “human”. The pagoda has survived seventy quakes, and it still stands as firm as ever.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The pagoda is a multi-eave and square brick structure. Originally it was 46 meters high with 15 stories, but is now only  43.3 meters high with 13 stories, because its steeple was destroyed, as a result of the earthquakes. Carved on the lintel are images of arhats and designs of grasses, with excellent workmanship reflecting the artistic style of the early Tang Dynasty. The pagoda has fifteen painted roofs. Each story is very low with small windows only on the southern and northern sides to let in light and air. The eaves are formed by designs in the shape of chevrons and fifteen tiers of overlapping bricks, each tier wider than the one below, thus making the eaves curve inward, a characteristic of multi-eave pagodas in the Tang Dynasty. From the first to the fifth story it tapers very little, but from the sixth story up, it reduces drastically, giving the pagoda a smooth curved contour. The tubular interior of the pagoda has wooden flooring and a winding flight of wooden steps leading to other stories.

The shape and structure of the pagoda are typical of early multi-eave pagodas and influenced many brick and stone multi-eave pagodas built later in other parts of the country.

Morning Bell Chimes

Inside the temple, there is a huge iron bell. The sound of the bell is crisp and pleasant, and can be heard as far as five kilometers away. The local natives often call it the “Magic Bell”. It is 4.5 meters in height and 10 tons in weight. It is said that if one missed one’s  beloved relations far away, the only thing one  could do was to write their names and addresses on a piece of yellow paper, and the sound of the bell would pass the message to them. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is well-known for its “Morning Bell Chimes”. It used to be one of the Eight Famous Scenic Attractions in the central Shaanxi plain.

Xi’an Museum

Covering an area of 245 hectares, the museum was officially opened to the public in May 2007. This museum collectively reflects the long history of Xi’an city.

The culture exhibition hall, is  the main building of the Xi’an Museum, and was designed under the charge of Mrs. Zhang Jinqiu, the famous designer and academician of the Chinese Academy of Science and designer of the Shaanxi History Museum.According to the news media of 2004, this building was selected as one of the ten future symbolic architectures of Xi’an. The museum covers a  floor space of over 16, 000 square meters and the exhibition area of over 5, 000 square meters. The exhibition of the Xi’an Museum consists of the basic exhibition, specific theme exhibitions and temporary exhibitions. Out of the 130,000 pieces or sets of collected cultural relics, 14,400 pieces or sets are cherished culture relics, exceeding national standard of the third class. Almost 2,000 pieces or sets of relics are on exhibit to the public for the first time.The extraordinarily splendid, various culture relics mark  different aspects of Chinese ancient history.


Location: No. 72, West Youyi Road, Southern Xi’an, one kilometer (ten minutes) away from the center of the city

Opening Time: 9:00 to 17:30, Closed on every Tuesday

Ticket Price Free (Get the ticket with your passport)

Visiting Time: one hour