Architectura Sinica

Xingshengjiao Monastery Pagoda  興聖教寺塔


  • Xingshengjiao Temple Pagoda (English)
  • 興聖教寺塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 兴圣教寺塔 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Xīngshèngjiāo sì tǎ (Pinyin)
  • Hsing-sheng-chiao ssu t'a (Wade-Giles)
  • Songjiang Square Pagoda (English)
  • 松江方塔 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 松江方塔 (Simplified Chinese)


  • China
  • County-city:
    • Shanghai Municipality (English)
    • 上海市 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Shànghǎi shì (Pinyin)
  • Political-subdivision:
    • Songjiang District (English)
    • 松江區 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Sōngjiāng qū (Pinyin)
  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 31.006389° Long. 121.241667°
  • Site Information

    Xingshengjiao Temple Pagoda is located in the Fangta Park of the Songjiang district in Shanghai. It is classified as a square type and a pavilion type pagoda (Tian 2002, 1; Ye 2015, 44; Zheng 1981, 73). The pagoda is also commonly known as the Songjiang Square Pagoda (Tian 2002, 1). Constructed during the Xining and Yuanyou reigns of the Northern Song (1068-1094) (Zheng 1981, 72), Xingshengjiao Temple Pagoda was originally a building within the Xingshengjiao Temple Complex. The pagoda is the only part of the temple to survive. It stands 9 stories tall, reaching 48.5 meters tall (Zheng 1981, 73-4). The core of the pagoda is constructed in brick, and the eaves are made of timber (Tan 2002, 90). Although it was built prior to the compilation of the Yingzao fashi, the measurements of the pagoda are consistent with the regulations of the Yingzao fashi (Tan 2002, 90). In order to compensate for the strong southeast wind at the site, the pagoda was originally constructed with a incline toward the southeast. However, over its lifetime, the southeast wind has gradually pushed the pagoda to have a 50 cm incline to the northwest (Zheng 1981, 75).1

    In 1974, an excavation by the Shanghai Museum uncovered a small pagoda crypt (Zhang and Sun 1983, 1125). The crypt is 0.65 meters wide from east to west, 0.48 meters long from north to south, and 0.45 meters deep (Lee 2010, 259; Zhang and Sun 1983, 1125). The inside of the crypt was undecorated (Lee 2010, 259). The crypt contained a set of nesting boxes, the outermost made of stone, the middle one made of lacquer, and the smallest two made of silver (Zhang and Sun 1983, 1127). On the top of the outermost box were 186 bronze coins and a small gilt bronze statue, the base standing 5.5 centimeters tall and the statue standing 14 centimeters tall overall (Lee 2010, 253-4; Zhang and Sun 1983, 1125-6). The statue has been identified as the Central Asian monk Sengqie (617-710) who was a popular figure of worship during the Tang and Northern Song dynasties (Lee 2010, 253; Zhang and Sun 1983, 1125). The lacquer box contained both silver boxes, a bronze reclining Buddha statue, a piece of agarwood, and 101 small silver beads (Zhang and Sun 1983, 1127-8). The bronze Buddha is 42 centimeters long, and hollow, containing two Śarīra relic beads (Lee 2010, 258). A piece of wood was used to seal these beads within the Buddha, with an inscription reading: “Interred here is the ordained monk (bhikkhu) Miaoyuan of the Xingsheng monastery” 興聖院比丘妙遠入藏 (Lee 2010, 258-9; modified translation). Within the two silver containers were two of the Buddha’s teeth, identified by the Shanghai museum as elephant teeth, and seven additional Śarīra relic beads (Zhang and Sun 1983, 1127-8).2

    Between 1975 and 1977, this pagoda underwent major renovations. During the renovations it was found that out of 177 dougong, approximately 110 were the original dougong from the Song dynasty (Tan 2002, 90; Tian 2002, 1; Zheng 1981, 73). In 1996, Xingshengjiao temple pagoda was added to the list of Shanghai’s nationally protected sites (Tan 2002, 90; Zheng 1981, 73).3

    Dynasty Northern Song 960 - 1172 4

    External Links

    Works Cited

    Any information without attribution has been created following the editorial guidelines.

    • 1 田. 2002. 粉墙塔影 --上海松江兴圣教寺塔, 1.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 叶. 2015. 建议发行《中国古塔》第三组, 44.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 郑. 1981. 上海古塔建筑特色探析, 72-5.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 谭. 2002. 上海的塔(二), 90.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 张. 1983. 上海市松江县兴圣教寺塔地宫发掘简报, 1125-8.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; LEE. 2010. Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture, 253-9.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 谭. 2002. 上海的塔(二), 90.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 田. 2002. 粉墙塔影 --上海松江兴圣教寺塔, 1.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 郑. 1981. 上海古塔建筑特色探析, 73.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 4 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    Architectural Features

    How to Cite This Entry

    Sarah Brooker, “Xingshengjiao Monastery Pagoda 興聖教寺塔 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified April 2, 2021,


    Sarah Brooker, “Xingshengjiao Monastery Pagoda 興聖教寺塔 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published 2021-04-2-04:00.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Xingshengjiao Monastery Pagoda 興聖教寺塔

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    • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
    • Sarah Brooker, entry contributor, “Xingshengjiao Monastery Pagoda 興聖教寺塔

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    • Initial research and description 2021 by Sarah Brooker
    • Editing and proof correction by ZUO Lala 左拉拉
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