n the early 15 th century during the Ming Dynasty a magnificent edifice was built in the then- capital city of Nanking (now Nanjing), it was a magnificent tower built out of shiny porcelain bricks that reflected the sunlight during daytime, nine stories tall and accessed by a spiraling staircase with 184 steps, and decorated everywhere with Buddhist imagery. Visitors from foreign lands marveled at the Porcelain Tower of Bao’en Temple, until it was destroyed in 1856 during the Taiping Rebellion. Long seen as an archaeological site, a generous boon in 2010 made possible the idea of rebuilding the monument. Now, 6 years later, it’s finally done.
CNN reports that a modern reconstruction of the original Porcelain Tower has been opened as the central attraction of the Porcelain Tower Heritage Park, on the sight of the original temple grounds.
Rather than porcelain, the new tower is made out of white steel beams. But the designs and dimensions remain the same: nine stories, spiral staircase (with elevators), and iconography of the Buddha everywhere.
The new Porcelain Tower was the brainchild of Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group of property developers and the richest man in China. In 2010 he got into the record books by donating 1 billion Yuan to the Nanjing municipal government, with the intent of using it as capital to fund a reconstruction of the Ming-Dynasty tower, after numerous artifacts and relics were discovered beneath the ground of the old site in 2008. This was the largest single personal donation ever made in Chinese history.
What the Ming Yongle Emperor’s builders took 17 years to complete, 2010s Nanjing did in barely over half a decade. The new Porcelain Tower provides the same awe to tourists as its ancestor did long ago, giving them magnificent views of historic and modern Nanjing along with the Qinhuai and Yangtze Rivers from nine levels and eight directions.
That’s not all, surrounding the tower is the rest of the Heritage Park complex, a remarkable Buddhist-themed museum that is as traditional as it is cutting-edge. Old relics and fragments of buildings are exhibited side by side with the most awesome technological displays, perhaps the most impressive being a Buddha head suspended in midair, its form made out of numerous laser-like dots of light. Scale dioramas of the construction of the original tower can also be viewed, as well as a unique chamber with mirrored walls and countless lights in ever-changing colors called “Sarira”, in reference to the Buddhist masters and their bodily relics. QR codes can be found at every single display for visitors to scan into their mobile devices for more information.
The Porcelain Tower Heritage Park has seemingly done the impossible in marrying the ancient traditions and memories of the past with modern technological stagecraft and visions of the future, all seemingly Buddhist-like.
Photo Credit to www.notey.com