White Cloud Monastery is a famous Taoist temple in Beijing. Built originally in 739 during the Tang Dynasty, it was first named Tianchang Monastery, then became Changchun Palace during the Yuan Dynasty. In 1394 it was renamed White Cloud Monastery. Many famous Taoist priests had lived there, but today only one pagoda remains in the backyard.
The inscription on the front of the pagoda says that it was built in 1725 as the tomb of a Taoist priest whose real name was Luo and whose Taoist monastic name was Tiandanshouyi.
The style of the pagoda is similar to that of a pavilion. The exquisite building is made entirely of carved stone. At the bottom is a Sumeru pedestal ornamented with carved patterns of lotus petals. The octagonal structure is surmounted by a roof with three levels of eaves. The pagoda is about ten meters high. Its most outstanding feature is its faithful imitation of wood components and carvings. The rafters, eaves, tiles, animal ornaments on the roof ridges and bell-patterned windows all follow the style of carved wood. The symbol of Taoism, the pattern of the Eight Diagrams, is carved on the surface of the pagoda. The eaves are supported by closely structured brackets, an ornamental method commonly used in Lamaist dagobes in Tibet and Inner Mongolia. The top of the pagoda is a pavilion-style octagonal structure surmounted by a precious bead, quite different from most Buddhist pagodas.
The pagoda is not only outstanding among Taoist pagodas but also a rare example of large-scale stone carving in the early period of the Qing Dynasty.