Generally, Cishi pagodas are Buddhist, since in the past people called the Buddha or bodhisattvas Cishi. The pagoda originally stood on Sanwei Mountain more than ten kilometers southeast of the grottoes. For better protection it was moved in front of the grottoes.
The one-storey, odagonal, pavilion-style pagoda has a diameter of 2.6 meters. It has a pyramid-shaped roof with one-tier eaves and is 5.5 meters high. The wooden pagoda has an octagonal base, a veranda and a door on the south side. The interior is a square chamber with an arched ceiling. In the middle stands a statue of Buddha and painted on the walls are color portraits of Manjusri and Samantabhadra. The caisson ceiling is round and painted with dragons. Two dragons are carved on the pagoda's door.
A major part of the pagoda is wooden, and it has many unique features. For example, the ration between the height and width of the wooden material is 18:10, higher than stipulated by Architectural Methods of the Song Dynasty. The ends of the brackets shape an inverse curve and their tips are carved with decorative arches. Such features are seldom seen in other wooden structures. The pagoda's roof is mud instead of tiles and the wails are also plastered with mud. As rain is scarce in the desert, the pagoda is still in good condition after more than a thousand years. No exact date of the pagoda's construction is available, but its architectural structure and the style of its paintings and plastered walls show it is a work of the early Northern Song Dynasty. Although it is built of both wood and mud, the pagoda should be regarded as a wooden structure and a rare example of early wooden pagodas.