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Pagoda Forest at Shaolin Temple

The Pagoda Forest at Shaolin Temple stands at the foot of Shaoshi Mountain about half a kilometer west of Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. It is a concentration of tomb pagodas for eminent monks and abbots of the temple. A rough count shows more than 240 tomb pagodas of various sizes from the Tang, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (618-1911), making it the biggest pagoda forest in China.

Most of the Pagoda Forest is stone and brick structures, ranging from one to seven storeys, less than fifteen meters high -- much smaller than pagodas for Buddhist relics -- and all carry the exact year of their construction and many carvings and inscriptions. They are in a variety of styles, but are mainly multi-eaved and of pavilion-style. Their shapes are varied, including polygonal, cylindrical, vase, conical and monolithic, making the pagoda forest an exhibition of ancient pagodas, carvings and calligraphy of various dynasties. Besides the pagoda forest there are many invaluable tomb pagodas scattered around the Shaolin Temple, including the Faro Pagoda built in 689 in the Tang Dynasty, the Tongguang Pagoda constructed in 926 in the Five Dynasties, the Yugong Pagoda erected in 1324 in the Yuan Dynasty, and the Zhaogong Pagoda built in the Ming Dynasty, which are gems among ancient pagodas.

Yugong Pagoda (Duke Yu Pagoda) located in the center of the Pagoda Forest, is a seven-storey hexagonal brick pagoda, commemorating the monk Fu Yu, the most famous abbot of the Zhongxing Shaolin Temple in the Yuan Dynasty. After he passed away, the then Yuan emperor granted him the title of duke. He was the only duke monk in the history of the Shaolin Temple. Due to Fu Yu's contribution to the Zhongxing Temple, monks of the Shaolin Temple erected a stele before his pagoda with Chinese characters kai shan zu shi (the great founder).  

The Pagoda Forest is a rare treasure for later generations to study the history of Chinese ancient architecture, carving, calligraphy, art and religion. Besides, it is a scenic spot for tourists from home and abroad.

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