Monday, September 22, 2008

Daqin Pagoda

Daqin Pagoda in Chang'an, Shaanxi Province, located by Louguan temple, China, is the remnant of the earliest surviving in China. The church and the monastery were built in 640 by members of the Assyrian Church of the East, also referred to as the Nestorian church. ''Daqin'' is the name for the Roman Empire in the Chinese language of the time.


Persecution of Christians in China led to the abandonment of Daqin in about 845. Much later, in 1300, a temple was installed in the pagoda. An earthquake severely damaged the pagoda in 1556 and it was finally abandoned. Due to the earthquake, many of the underground chambers of the complex are no longer reachable. Daqin was "rediscovered" in 1998 and its roots in early Chinese Christianity were recognized.

The pagoda today

Inside the pagoda, artistic works in both Western and Asiatic style can still be found, among them Jonah at the walls of Nineveh, a nativity scene and graffiti. Many of these artworks are made from mud and plaster, which suffered during prior centuries from exposure to the elements. Seismic activity and flooding endanger the stability of the pagoda. In 1999, the pagoda's exterior was restored, but overall stability was not improved. Further restoration of the site is planned, as well as exploration, most probably by remote probe, of the collapsed underground chambers.

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