It may be the world's best-preserved wood pagoda, but it's still not in very good condition. It's about the Sakyamuni Pagoda in north China's Shanxi province, and the problem is, the ancient tower is leaning. So, how will experts save it? Well, actually, they're still deciding, but in the meantime, the clock is ticking.
Time is the biggest enemy of the pagoda. Standing here for nearly one-thousand years, the pagoda has endured not only bad weather, but earthquakes and wars. Even for stone, ten centuries of exposure will leave its mark, let alone a structure made of wood.
Without a single nail, the ancient pagoda is completely made of timber. It's the oldest and the biggest wood pagoda still standing in the world. The octagonal pagoda in Fogong or Buddha's Palace Temple is nearly 70 meters tall and has a weight of over 7,000 tons. It's honored as one of the top three miraculous towers, along with Eiffel Tower in Paris and the leaning tower of Pisa.
Now, only the first and second floors are opened to the public. And now, only 20 people at a time are allowed to visit the second floor where almost all the 32 columns are in poor condition. This is also where visitors will easily see the most obvious leaning... as much as 10 degrees. Staff at the pagoda say the degree of lean is even more on the third floor. The natural results of the tilt are breaks and distortions.
A expert team of protection and restoration has been working for nearly two decades since the early 1990s. But the final solution hasn't been chosen because the situation keeps getting more and more complicated.
Ma Yujiang, Restoration Expert, said, "One of the resolutions is to hang up the fourth and fifth floors to restore the second and third floors and put them back, but the problem is some pieces of the columns have already been broken. If they are taken out, then why not change them with new wood and keep the old pieces in a better condition. "
Ma says to find out how the pagoda was built without any nails is also a key to its protection and a way to inherit the legacy. No matter which resolution is determined, the ancient pagoda needs an urgent solution if it is to stand for another thousand years.