Question: How does the Shinbashira work?

The pagodas of the far east often have a central pillar / shinbashira built into the center of the structure. These pillars, like the spine of the human body, can bend to absorb the natural forces acting upon building (strong wind & earthquakes).

What does a Shinbashira do?

The shinbashira (心柱, also 真柱 or 刹/擦 satsu) refers to a central pillar at the core of a pagoda or similar structure. The shinbashira has long been thought to be the key to the Japanese pagodas notable earthquake resistance, when newer concrete buildings may collapse.

How does a pagoda work?

A pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves common to Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most often Buddhist but sometimes Taoist, and were often located in or near viharas. The pagoda traces its origins to the stupa of ancient India.

How do pagodas stay up during earthquakes?

During an earthquake, the pagoda does a kind of shimmy, or snake-dance, with each roof damping out the motion of its neighbors. The next time you drive past a large power transmission line tower, notice the way a slack length of cable often links the power line on one side to that on the other.

Why are pagodas so strong?

The reason traditionally attributed has been the shinbashira; newer research shows that the very wide eaves also contribute to the inertial stability of the pagoda. The bending of the spine of the pagoda is derived from the knowledge that came to the Far East from India.

Why are Japanese pagodas earthquake proof?

Every structural part of the five — story pagoda is made of wood. So if the ground begins to shake, the wood surfaces in these joints twist and rub against each other. This helps prevent the seismic energy from travelling far up the tower.

What are stupas a symbol of?

the Buddha The stupa itself is a symbol of the Buddha, and more accurately, of his enlightened mind and presence.

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