This type of pagoda is relatively large, about the same height and size as the multistoreyed type. Its most outstanding feature is the many layers of eaves. Other characteristics of multi-eaved pagodas include:
1. The ground storey is proportionately large. From the second storey up, the eaves are so closely layered that it is difficult to distinguish the different storeys of the pagoda.
2. There are no doors, windows or columns above the first storey. Though tiny windows sometimes appeared on such pagodas in the early period, their number was gradually reduced until they disappeared altogether. For light and ventilation small holes were sometimes put between the eaves, not necessarily corresponding to the storeys inside.
3. Most multi-eaved pagodas do not have staircases for people to climb up. Even though flights of steps were built in some of them, such as the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the pagoda at Songyue Temple, they were not meant for people to climb to enjoy the view. Most multi-eaved pagodas built during the Liao and Kin dynasties were solid and could not be climbed at all.
4. The ground storey is the main structure of the pagoda and has all the decorative elements, such as niches, statues of Buddha, and various carvings. Doors, windows, columns and brackets are also installed on this storey. In fact, both religious content and architectural craftsmanship are concentrated in this storey. As the construction of multi-eaved pagodas developed, the ornamentation became more and more complicated. The simple decorations on pagodas built during the Tang and Song dynasties became much more ornamental in the Liao and Kin dynasties.
Multi-eaved pagodas developed out of multistoreyed pagodas. In the course of transformation from wooden to brick and stone structures two main types developed; one was a brick and stone imitation of wooden multi-storeyed pagodas; the other was the multi-eaved pagoda.
Multi-eared pagodas built during the early period did not have very complicated ornamentation. The eaves were built by mounting bricks in layers, with each layer a little outreaching than the lower one. But since neither bricks nor stones have strong shearing or bending capability, the eaves could not extend too much from the buildings. Multi-eared pagodas of the early period did not have such components as brackets, purlins and ridged tiles attached to the eaves. The Songyue Temple Pagoda in Dengfeng, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an and the Qianxun Pagoda in Dali are examples. They all feature many layers of short eaves and arched gateways, built in accordance with the principles of mechanics of the materials.
The architecture of multi-eaved pagodas saw rapid development from the Liao Dynasty on. A special artistic style formed in north and northeast China. Multi-eaved pagodas built during this period underwent three changes: First, the hollow structures became solid structures that could not be climbed. Second, a huge platform was added at the bottom of the pagoda, decorated with beautiful sculptures of Buddha, bodhisattvas, musicians, dancers, and patterns of animals and plants. On the walls of the ground storey complicated decorative elements were added, such as niches, statues of Buddha and bodhisattvas, and murals of flying apsarasea. Doors, windows, columns, brackets, beams and rafters were also installed along the inside walls. Third, imitations of such components as wooden brackets, purlins, beams and ridged tiles were added under the eaves on the upper levels of the pagoda. These changes helped create an extremely complicated and magnificent pagoda that continued to be popular after the Mind Dynasty in north China. In the south, however, pagodas retained a simple, unadorned style, and the multistoreyed structure remained dominant in pagoda building.
Representatives of multi-eared pagoda of the Liao and Kin dynasties include the Tianning Temple Pagoda in Beijing, the Lantern Pagoda in Tongxian County, the Yuanying Pagoda in Changli and the Green Pagoda at Linji Temple in Zhengding, Hebei Province, the Guangji Temple Pagoda in Jinzhou, the Twin Pagodas at Beizhen's Chongxing Temple and the White Pagoda in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, and the Nong'an Pagoda in Jilin Province.