Miniature Carved wooden Sarira Pagoda at Asoka Temple in Ningbo of Zhejiang Province
This pagoda is only several dozen centimeters high, but it is a famous Buddhist treasure with a long history. Preserved in Asoka Temple of Baochuang Town, Yinxian County, Ningbo City, it has been recorded in many Buddhist classics. There was once a legend that a man called Liu Sahe (or Liu Sachui, or Huida) once dug out a black miniature pagoda about 46 centimeters high and 23 centimeters wide. The steeple of the pagoda had five discs on it and the four sides were covered with carvings. The pagoda looked as if it were made of stone, but it was not really stone. Inside the pagoda there was a hanging bell containing a sarira. It was said that this was one of 84,000 pagodas created by King Asoka and the sarira in it belonged to Sakyamuni. In 405, during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, a pavilion was built on the site to house the pagoda. In 425 construction of a temple began, and in 522 the finished project was named Asoka Temple. A Sarira Hall more than fifteen meters high, the roof of which was covered with glazed tiles, was specially built in the temple for the purpose of preserving the pagoda. Inside sarira Hall a stone sarira pagoda contains a wooden pagoda inlaid with "seven treasures." The miniature pagoda is carefully kept inside the wooden pagoda. Every effort has been taken to protect the precious article. The miniature pagoda does have features that conform to the description in some Buddhist literature. The carvings on the pagoda have an Indian style, very similar to the 84,000 box-shaped Indian stupas constructed by order of Qian Hongchu. Whether the pagoda was made during the Five Dynasties or the Northern Song Dynasty, or whether it was really an unearthed article, remains an open question.