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Missing Chinese Architecture, 06 The King and the Buddhist Pagoda

Next to the West Lake in Hangzhou, stands a well-known pagoda, called Leifeng Pagoda. Legend has it that a white snake, which changed into a kind-hearted girl in order to seek true love, was imprisoned by a monk called Fa Hai under this pagoda. Only when the West Lake was dried and Leifeng Pagoda collapsed could the White Snake be rescued.

In 1924 A. D., the pagoda finally collapsed and thousands of local people in Hangzhou cheered. However, it is not known whether the White Snake managed to regain freedom. It was until 76 years later that the truth behind the Pagoda legend was revealed after an archaeological excavation.

In 2000, in re-modeling the scenic spot, the Hangzhou municipal government decided to rebuild the Leifeng Pagoda over the ruins of the old one. An archaeological exploration soon began.

Two months after clearing the ground, a piece of key evidence appeared. This is an incomplete stone tablet. Though it has only 162 characters remaining, it records in detail important information about the construction of the pagoda.

Through an interpretation of the remaining text, people found the Pagoda had nothing to do with the White Snake Legend. Actually, the builder of the Pagoda is a King of the Wuyue Kingdom called Qian Chu from 1,000 years ago.

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