The Legend of the First Pagoda
There is a legend related with the appearance of the first stupas and pagodas in China. Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty (reigned 58-75 CE) had a dream one night about a gold-colored man over three meters tall. The golden man flew all around the palace filling the building with a glowing, inspiring feeling. There was a halo upon his head. To the emperor, the gold man was different and didn't belong. The next morning, Emperor Ming called over his closest ministers to inform him on the subject. When the emperor asked for their explanation, one of the men, Fu Yi, told him about a weird god in the West. He spoke of a god named Buddha, who was very much similar to the spirit in the emperor's dream. The ruler immediately sent out high officials to India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan to find out about the mysterious religion. In Central Asia, the group of people met up with two Buddhist monks who offered to help them by giving them some religious scriptures and a statue of Buddha.
In order to follow his new religion, to show his loyalty and affection to Buddha, and to spread the word of Buddhism to people all around him, Emperor Ming built the first pagoda in China. His pagoda was built based on the structure-like form that was given to him by the two monks. The White Horse Temple, built near Luoyang, was completed in 68 CE. The Pagoda was surrounded by other buildings and statues, which made a place for prayer, for ceremonies, and for monks to live in.