Architectura Sinica

Great Bao'en Monastery  大報恩寺


  • Great Bao'en Monastery (English)
  • 大報恩寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 大报恩寺 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Dàbàoēnsì (Pinyin)
  • Ta-pao-en-szu (Wade-Giles)
  • Asoka Monastery (English)
  • 阿育王寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 阿育王寺 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Chǎnggàn Monastery (English)
  • 長干寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 长干寺 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Tianxisi Monastery (English)
  • 天禧寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 天禧寺 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Tianxi ci’en jingzhong Doctrinal Monastery (English)
  • 天禧慈恩旌忠教寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 天禧慈恩旌忠教寺 (Simplified Chinese)


  • China
  • Province:
    • Jiangsu province (English)
    • 江蘇省 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Jiāngsū shěng (Pinyin)
  • County-city:
    • Nanjing Municipality (English)
    • 南京市 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Nánjīng shì (Pinyin)
  • Political-subdivision:
    • Qinhuai District (English)
    • 秦淮區 (Traditional Chinese)
    • Qínhuái qū (Pinyin)
  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 32.011991° Long. 118.776955°
  • Site Information

    Located outside the Zhonghuamen 中華門 in Qinhuai District 秦淮區, Nanjing, Jiangsu, Bao’en Monastery is the oldest Buddhist site in Nanjing and potentially the earliest Buddhist complex in Southern China. Although none of the historic buildings are extant, in 2015 the excavated site was turned into a museum.

    The monastery’s origins are usually traced to the Sun Wu Kingdom (222-280) and may have included an Asoka pagoda and a small nun’s jingshe 精舍 (“refinement chamber” or convent), but all were destroyed with the fall of the Wu. Likely reconstructed in the Western Jin , the site gained even greater fame when the monk Liu Sahe 劉薩訶 (Huida 慧达, 3rd-4th cen. CE), following a strange qi emanating from Changgan Ward, discovered a reliquary deposit reputed to be one of Asoka’s original 84,000 reliquaries, nineteen of which had been transmitted to the far east. The complex was expanded by Emperor Wu of Liang (r. 502-549), who is said to have excavated the relics and reinterred them in a pair of pagodas. Although the official name of the monastery at the time was likely “Asoka Monastery” (Ayuwangsi 阿育王寺) it was commonly referred to by the name Changgan Monastery (Changgansi 長干寺), after its location in Changgan Ward (Nanjing shi Kaogu yanjiusuo [NSKY] 2015, 4; Nan shi 1975 78.1955).1

    Having burned in the Sui-Tang wars, the site became a military camp during the Tang dynasty . With the support of Song Zhenzong during the Dazhong xiangfu reign period (1008-1017) . The monk Kezheng 可政 restored Changgan Monastery on its original site and built a new nine-story brick pagoda originally named True (or Perfected) Body Pagoda (Zhenshen ta 真身塔). To honor the site Zhenzong bestowed a plaque with the name Tianxi Monastery in the second year of the Tianxi reign period (1018), and renamed the pagoda “Relic Pagoda of Sagacious Influence” (Shenggan shelita 聖感舍利塔.) The monastery was further given the title Tianxi Doctrinal Monastery of Compassionate Blessings and Manifest Loyalty (Tianxi ci’en jingzhongsi天禧慈恩旌忠教寺) during the Yuan dynasty, but although it was renovated at the beginning of the Ming, it burned again in 1408 (NSKY 2015, 4-6).2

    In 1412, the Yongle Emperor (Zhu Di 朱棣 r. 1402-1424) ordered the monastery to be rebuilt in full accordance with the architectural scale and standards of the imperial palace (Nanjing shi Kaogu yanjiusuo, 4-6). Dedicated to the imperial family, the Yongle Emperor renamed it the Great Bao’en Monastery (大报恩寺; (Monastery for Repaying Kindness)) in gratitude to his parents (Jing and Hu 2002, 36). The massive construction project, said to have been supervised by Zheng He 鄭和, took nineteen years to finish (Jing and Hu 2002, 36). The most famous building in the monastery was the Bao’en Monastery Pagoda, which was covered by colored glaze tiles liuliwa 琉璃瓦 and housed important Buddhist relics, themselves held within a Seven Treasures Asoka pagoda 七寶阿育王塔. Known in the West as the “Porcelain Pagoda,” the Bao’ensi Pagoda came to be regarded as one of the Wonders of the World (Campbell 2020, 16-17). Over the Ming dynasty, ten major sects of Buddhism all had lectures in the monastery and the monastery was also in charge of engraving and printing the Nanzang 南藏 (Ren and Yang 1989, 117). In the fourth year of the Xianfeng reign period (1854), during the Taiping Rebellion, the monastery was unfortunately destroyed by fire (Jing and Hu 2002, 38). Only one hall, two dragon-tortoise stele bases (guifu 龜趺 or bixi 贔屭), and the Da Bao’ensi stele survived (Ren and Yang 1989, 117).3

    Differing from conventional north-south orientation, the Ming dynasty building complex was oriented east-west, with the main ritual buildings located in the north and the subsidiary buildings in the south. The main northern zone originally consisted of over twenty halls (Ren and Yang 1989, 117). On the central axis, from west to east, there were the Jingang Hall 金剛殿, Xiangshuihe Bridge 香水河橋, Celestial Kings Hall 天王殿, main hall大殿, Glazed Pagoda 琉璃塔, Guanyin Hall 觀音殿 and Dharma Hall 法堂. Framing the courtyards on the north and south were two stele pavilions, sutra repositories, a Patriarch Hall 祖師堂 and Vihara Hall 伽藍殿. The extensive southern precinct included further sutra repositories and the abbot’s quarters (fangzhang方丈) (NSKY 2015, 4-6).4

    In preparation for the creation of a Great Bao’en Monastery Site Park, the Nanjing archaeological bureau excavated the entire northern complex from 2007-2010. In 2007 the pagoda foundation and the Underground Palace 地宮 were excavated(Nanjing kaogu yanjiusuo 2015, 6). In 2008 a bone relic of Sakyamuni and a variety of valuable Buddhist cultural relics were excavated from the reliquary deposit (Leng 2016, 56). Inscriptions in the reliquary deposit indicate that this was from the Song period reinternment of the Changgan Monastery relics.5

    In 2015, led by a multidisciplinary team from Southeast University, the Great Bao’ensi Site Museum 大報恩寺遺址博物館 was constructed on the original site of the historical temple (Chen 2017, 1). The architectural plan of the museum presents the temple’s general layout during the Ming Dynasty (Han 2017, 12). Retaining the original central axis, the current outer walls and galleries form a rectangular courtyard that emulates the historical temple in terms of scale (Han 2017, 12). The museum therefore serves to shelter and connect the fragmented and scattered authentic ruins of the monastery and at the same time display the cultural relics within the grand layout of the royal temple (Chen 2017, 6).6

    Site Information


    大報恩寺的始源通常可追溯到孫吳時期(222-280)。當時的寺廟可能包括了一座阿育王塔和一座比丘尼小精舍,但所有建築都在孫吳滅亡時已被摧毀。在那之後,該寺在僧人感獲佛舍利的事跡下獲得了更多的重視,於是在西金時期得以重建。僧人劉薩訶(惠達,公元3-4世紀)跟隨長干里的神秘煙霧的感應下佛舍利。該佛舍利乃是聞名於世的阿育王分散的84,000 顆原始佛舍利之一當初總共十九顆分配到了遠東地區。梁武帝隨後(r. 502-549)再次重建該寺, 並將在原先掘出的諸個佛舍利重新瘗藏於其中一對佛塔之下。儘管該寺當時被正式命名為阿育王寺,得名於其所處地段長干裡,它實則多被稱為長干寺 (南京市考古研究所 [南京考古] 2015, 4; 南史 1975, 卷78, 1955)。1

    該寺在隋唐戰爭中被燒毀之後,它的遺址在唐朝時被用作軍營。 大中祥符年間(1008-1017年),在宋真宗的支持下,可政高僧在原址之下復興了長干寺,並新建了一座九層磚塔,名為真身塔。 天禧二年(1018年),真宗為紀念該遺址,授牌天禧寺,更名為“聖化舍利塔”, 元代名曰天禧慈恩旌忠教寺。明初雖經過重修,1408年報恩寺再次焚毀 (南京考古 2015, 4-6).2

    1412年,永樂皇帝(朱棣 r. 1402-1424)下令完全按照故宮的建築規模和標準重建寺院 (南京市考古研究所,4-6)。用以供奉皇室,永樂皇帝為該寺更名為大報恩寺以報答父母的恩情(經 and 胡 2002, 36)。據稱,此次重建工程浩大,由三寶太監鄭和親自監督,耗時 19 年才竣工(經 and 胡 2002, 36)。寺內最著名的建築是報恩寺寶塔,塔上覆蓋著琉璃瓦,裡面則收藏著重要的佛教遺物,保存在七寶阿育王塔內。報恩寺塔在西方被稱為“瓷塔”,後來被認為是世界奇觀之一(Campbell 2020, 16-17)。明代十餘大宗派均層在寺院中講學,它還負責了《南藏》的刻印(任 and 楊 1989, 117)。 1845年咸豐四年,太平天國之亂,寺院不幸被大火燒毀(經 and 胡 2002, 38)。僅存一殿、兩座龜趺與大報恩寺碑(任 and 楊 1989,117)。3

    與傳統的南北朝向不同,明代建築群呈東西走向,主要禮制建築在北,附屬建築在南。 主要的北區最初由二十多個大廳組成(任 and 楊 1989, 117)。 沿著中軸線自西向東坐落著金剛殿、香水河橋、天王殿、大殿、琉璃塔、觀音殿和法堂。 南北兩側的院落內有兩座碑亭、藏經閣、祖師堂和伽藍殿。廣闊的南部區域包括更多的藏經閣和方丈的住所(南京考古 2015, 4-6)。4

    為準備創建大報恩寺遺址公園,南京考古局於 2007 年至 2010 年挖掘了該遺址整個北部建築群。 2007年開挖寶塔地基與地宮(南京考古 2015, 6)。 2008年,從舍利場出土了一件釋迦牟尼骨舍利和各種珍貴的佛教文物(冷 2016,56)。 遺物存放處的銘文表明,這些文物乃是宋代重新安置于長干寺地宮內的遺留寶物。5

    2015年,在東南大學組建的跨學期團隊帶領在歷史寺廟原址上建成大報恩寺遺址博物館(陳 2017, 1)。 博物館建築平面圖採用明代寺院總版式, 保留了原有的中軸線,並用現在的外牆和廊道形成了一個長方形的庭院,在規模上模仿了歷史悠久的寺廟(韓 2017, 12)。因此,此博物館在展示皇家寺廟宏偉佈局內的文物的同時起到了庇護和連接寺院零碎散落的真實遺址的作用(陳 2017, 6)。6

    Dynasty Ming 1368-1644 7

    External Links

    Works Cited

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

    • 1 南京市考古研究所. 2015. 南京大报恩寺遗址塔基与地宫发掘简报, 4.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 李. 1975. 南史, juan 78, 1955.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 南京市考古研究所. 2015. 南京大报恩寺遗址塔基与地宫发掘简报, 4-6.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 经. 2002. 南京大报恩寺琉璃塔的毁灭与重建, 36, 38.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 16-17., 16-17.; 任. 1989. 大报恩寺, 117.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 4 任. 1989. 大报恩寺, 117.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 南京市考古研究所. 2015. 南京大报恩寺遗址塔基与地宫发掘简报, 4-6.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 5 南京市考古研究所. 2015. 南京大报恩寺遗址塔基与地宫发掘简报, 4-6.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 冷. 12. 2016. 明代报恩寺琉璃宝塔探析, 56.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 6 陈. 2017.01. 历史如此流动——金陵大报恩寺遗址公园规划设计, 1, 6.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 韩. 2017.01. 在地脉和时态的关联中传承和创新——金陵大报恩寺遗址博物馆设计, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 7 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    How to Cite This Entry

    ZOU Yuyang 鄒宇洋, “Great Bao'en Monastery 大報恩寺 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified June 11, 2021,


    ZOU Yuyang 鄒宇洋, “Great Bao'en Monastery 大報恩寺 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published April 5, 2021.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Great Bao'en Monastery 大報恩寺

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    • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
    • ZOU Yuyang 鄒宇洋, entry contributor, “Great Bao'en Monastery 大報恩寺

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    • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
    • Initial research 2021 by ZOU Yuyang 鄒宇洋

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