Himalayan Art Resources

Region: China, Beijing, Aniko Stupa (SRG Archive)

China Main Page

Subjects & Topics:
- Description (below)
- Wutaishan Stupa
- Stupa Main Page
- Aniko Controversy
- Others...

The White Stupa of Aniko is located in the city of Beijing and found to the North-west of the Imperial Palace. Aniko, originally known as Barub (or Balabahu), 1244-1306, is said to have been born in a Nepalese royal household descended from the Shakya family of Lumbhini and the historical Buddha - Shakyamuni. The name Aniko is said to come from the name Araniko given to him by Chogyal Pagpa, a name in some way thought to be related to Mahakala. Between 1259 and 1264 eighty craftsman and artist journeyed from the Kathmandu Valley to Sakya, Tibet, to construct a golden stupa. Aniko was the leader of the group. After recieving monastic ordination, in 1269 Aniko traveled with Chogyal Pagpa to Dadu (Beijing) to meet with Kublai Khan. In 1271 Aniko began constructing the White Stupa for the preservation of the country. In 1274 it was filled and consecrated by Chogyal Pagpa and Rinchen Gyaltsen - the brother of Pagpa. On October 25th, 1279, the stupa was officially completed. After completion a monastery was immediately built around the stupa. After ten years the temple and monastery were finished and named Dashengshou Wan'an Monastery.

Aniko was also renowned for constructing other buildings and monasteries under the command of Kublai along with 191 statues of Taoist saints. In 1302 the famous White Stupa of Mount Wutaishan, special for Manjushri, was also constructed by Aniko on top of and around an existing famous pagoda built centuries earlier. Chogyal Pagpa is also said to have contributed to the physical labour of the construction. Of the 40 years that Aniko spent in China 13 of those years were spent at Wutaishan Mountain. Aniko passed away at the age of 62 in the Imperial Palace in Dadu.

Aniko is primarily remembered for his architectural achievements and for the creation of sculpture. A painting of the Emperor and Empress are attributed to him. The two known remaining works generally agreed upon are the White Stupa in Beijing and the Stupa at Wutaishan Mountain. (See article on Araniko Gallery).

Jeff Watt 6-2010 [updated 6-2017]



- On Recent Attributions to Aniko, David Weldon