During the Tang dynasty in China (618-907 CE), Buddhist pagodas began to be made from stone and brick. Stone was more versatile and more attainable than wood. Stone also withstood harsh conditions, such as weather and fire far better than lumber Rather than immediately replacing the wooden structure with stone, however, the Chinese slowly incorporated the material into their architectural patterns. In the beginning, only the base of the pagoda was built with stone. The walls, roofs and spires on top were still made with wood.
Changes to the actual pagoda structure were made during this period as well. Previously, each level of the building was smaller than the size of a basic building. The ceiling was low, and the windows small. The levels were now heightened, made to accomodate an actual person standing as opposed to one leaning over. The rooms were more versatile, and there were more of them. On every level of most pagodas during this period, there was a room for each outside wall of the pagoda. They were now built with six or even eight sides instead of the basic four sided structure. Each level then, had six or eight rooms as well. The pagoda as a building began to match the everyday Chinese architectural styles.
The First Solitary Pagodas
Since their introduction to China, pagodas had always been built as part of an entire temple complex. Where in India stupas were designed to be solitary, the Chinese had considered a pagoda to be only one essential building, its function dependent on surrounding, more standard structures. The pagoda was only the central spiritual point within a large group of buildings where monks could live, eat, sleep and worship. However, since changes were made to the architecture of the pagoda itself, the building could stand alone as a temple.
As well as isoalating the pagodas, another change during this time period was to build more than one pagoda together. One temple often had two within. The double pagodas were placed either within a temple, or under the new pattern, alone.