The pagoda is located in Yangpi Village three kilometers north of Xiaguan in Dali City, Yunnan Province. Why is it called Shegu (Boa's Bone) Temple? According to Yunnan folklore, in the Tang Dynasty Xiaguan was under the jurisdiction of the Nanzhao local government and was called Longweiguan. Outside Xiaguan lived a boa that often came out and swallowed human beings and animals. Many brave people tried in vain to conquer the boa, since it could create a cyclone whenever it opened its mouth and could suck up people dozens of meters away. At the time a courageous young man named Duan Chicheng lived in Dali, capital of Nanzhao. He was determined to kill the boa for his people. Knowing how the boa harmed people, he decided to enter the boa's mouth through the cyclone and kill the boa from within. He put on a suit of armour and went to challenge the boa with a pair of broadswords. As expected, a cyclone blew up and he let himself be drawn into the boa. Once inside, he chopped up the boa's internal organs, thus killing the boa. He had intended to leave from the boa's mouth, but the dead boa's mouth was closed tight and he had to cut a hole in the boa's back to get out. Unfortunately, his swords got stuck in the boa's bone and, exhausted, he could not dislodge them. He died inside the boa. The people in Longweiguan waited three days and three nights, and when the young hero did not return, they cut the boa open and recovered his body. They buried him ceremoniously and built the pagoda over his grave to commemorate him. They also burnt the boa and buried the ashes around the pagoda to protect it. Hence the pagoda's name.
Shegu Pagoda may have been built during the Nanzhao period. The style of the existing pagoda is very close to that of multi-eave pagodas in the Central Plains during the Tang Dynasty, indicating that at that time Nanzhao was closely related to the culture of the Central Plains.
The square, multi-eave, thirteen-storey, brick pagoda is thirty-nine meters high. The first storey is very high; it has a door in the front but no ornaments, giving it a simple, strong appearance. The thirteen pent roofs and their eaves curve inward, reflecting the style of Tang Dynasty pagodas. The metal steeple is formed by a base, the main body, a canopy and a bead. The pagoda is a well-preserved multi-eave pagoda of the Tang Dynasty style and with distinctive local characteristics.