Chinese Pagoda

UnknownLate 18th century-Early 19th century -

National Palace of Sintra

National Palace of Sintra
Sintra, Portugal

A Chinese pagoda consisting of nine pavilions or small temples flanked by two towers, each with thirteen storeys. This miniature architectural ensemble is supported upon a wooden structure and is made entirely of (mostly) ivory and bone, in the form of either plaques or veneers. The structure consists of a succession of five separate levels interspersed with patios, gardens and staircases, on which there appear small ivory figures, besides other decorative details, such as bells, votive inscriptions and vegetation. The whole piece is housed inside a polychrome wooden display case, whose architectural format is adapted to the shape of the pagoda’s three main bodies.

The first reference to this piece mentions it as being housed at the Palace of Ramalhão, the former residence of the queen Carlota Joaquina, the wife of João VI, who lived there at the end of her life, in a state of semi-exile, dividing her time between this palace and that of Queluz. In 1850, the pagoda was transferred from the Palace of Ramalhão to the National Palace of Sintra, where it has been on display ever since. Because of its size and the great technical quality of its workmanship, it is a unique example of its kind. Other pieces with similar characteristics are known to exist in other collections, but they are smaller in size and display much less technical complexity.


  • Title: Chinese Pagoda
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: Late 18th century-Early 19th century -
  • Location: China, Qing Dinasty, Qianglong or Jiaqing period
  • Rights Information: National Palace of Sintra / Inês Ferro
  • Physical Dimensions: w194 x h246 x d122 cm
  • Photo: Escola Profissional de Imagem (EPI)-Curso de Fotografia/Isaura Cavalinhos, Marlene Simões e Bruna Silva/João Nogueira/Alexandre Santos, 2013.
  • Original Title (portuguese): Pagode Chinês, Pagode Chinês
  • Material(s) / Technique(s): Wood, ivory and bone
  • Image Rights: © Palácio Nacional de Sintra / PSML
  • Type: Decorative arts, Furniture

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