The pagoda is located on the east side of Guanghua Temple in the southern part of the county town of Putian. According to the inscription on one side of its door, it was built before 1165 in the Southern Song Dynasty. The name of the pagoda is inscribed on a horizontal board above the door of the second floor.
The 36-metre-high octagonal stone pagoda has five storeys and is modeled after wooden multistoreyed buildings. Now the foundation of the pagoda is lower than the ground around it, which has been raised higher and higher by soil washed down by rains from the mountains. Repair work has been done, however, so the pagoda's base is still clearly visible.
Among the many stone pagodas in Fujian the Sakya Buddhist Pagoda has its own unique style. First, the pagoda looks sturdy and firm and its pent roofs are wide and exquisite. The stone staircase inside is wide and the interior of the pagoda looks even and spacious. The balconies on each floor are also spacious. People can go up and down the pagoda as conveniently as if they were in an ordinary building. These characteristics distinguish this pagoda from all other multistoreyed stone pagodas in the country.
Second, the Sumeru pedestal and railings have their own distinctive styles. Sculptured on the girdle around the pedestal are designs such as lions playing with silk balls and peonies, all lively and exquisite. On the corners of the girdle are vivid images of celestial dwarf guards carrying heavy loads, The railings around the pedestal are distinctly different from those of other pagodas. They are not formed by balustrades and balusters, but slabs on which are carved patterns of waves and floating clouds. The railings are very low, thus adding elegance to the thick and sturdy pedestal.
Third, there are a lot of carvings on the pagoda. On the first floor there are doors on the east and west sides, while the other sides have niches with statues of Buddha inside them. On both sides of the doors and niches are sculptured images of Buddhist disciples, bodhisattvas and arhats and of Kasyapa and Ananda, Buddha's two principal disciples. The figures are so clear that people can distinguish the old from the young. From the second to the fifth floors there are doors on four sides and niches for Buddhist statues on the others. Flanking the doors are carved images of celestial guards, while flanking the niches are images of bodhisattvas, those of Avalokitesvara looking plump and thus particularly graceful. The pent roofs of the pagoda are built of two tiers of thick stones overlaid with a thin slab roofing. Therefore, they are wide and graceful. The thick overlapping stones form arcs on which are carved designs of phoenixes, flying apsarases, winged figures and exotic flowers and grasses. This is another feature that distinguishes the pagoda from others.