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The Rain Gauge ‘Cheugugi’ to become a National Treasure
2020/03/23
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The Rain Gauge ‘Cheugugi’ made in 1837 in Korea to Become a National Treasure


The Korean Government has announced that the rain gauge from Chungcheong-do Provincial Office in Gongju was designated as a National Treasure. It is the only surviving example of a pre-modern rain gauge in the world. Being designated alongside it are two rain gauge supports respectively formerly installed at the Gyeongsang-do Provincial Office in Daegu and in the Changdeokgung Palace. These three pieces of heritage testifying to the weather monitoring system of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) are currently registered on the list of National Treasures.


The designation of these three heritage items as National Treasures is an interpretation of their significance in the history of meteorology at the national and global level. They demonstrate the long-standing tradition of systematically crafting rain gauges and rain gauge supports and methodically measuring precipitation. The invention of a rain gauge (called a cheugugi in Korean) dates to 1442 during the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418–50). The creation in Korea of a scientific instrument for monitoring precipitation became internationally known with its introduction in the British science journal Nature in 1911.


This rain gauge (National Treasure No. 329) was crafted in 1837 and installed at the Chungcheong-do Provincial Office in Gongju. It was transported to Japan in 1915 by the Japanese meteorologist Wada Yuji, but returned to Korea in 1971. It has since been preserved at the headquarters of the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, Republic of Korea.


The rain gauge was built in three sections with an inscript_ion on the outer surface of the middle section that lists its production date and size. The inscript_ion tells that the rain gauge is 31.9 centimeters in height, 14.9 centimeters in diameter, and weighs 6.2 kilograms. These proportions are a faithful reflection of the standardized dimensions established during the reign of King Sejong. The inscribed information on this 19th-century instrument demonstrates that the rainfall-measuring system established in the 15th-century was sustained until at least the late Joseon period.


During the reign of King Yeongjo (r. 1724–76), rain gauges were crafted in accordance with the standards originally established during the reign of King Sejong. New dimensional guidelines were instituted for the production of the pedestals by referring to measurements applied in Sejong´s era. The rain gauge pedestal from the Gyeongsang-do Provincial Office in Daegu (National Treasure No. 330) is among the rain gauge pedestals crafted at this time. It survives as an embodiment of the meteorological system from King Yeongjo´s reign and pays testimony to the historic standardization of the size of the pedestals for the rain gauges.


The other rain gauge (National Treasure No. 331) support was installed in front of the Imunwon, an office storing royal document_s, within Changdeokgung Palace. It was crafted in 1782 during the reign of King Jeongjo (1776–1800). This pedestal demonstrates that the practice of installing rain gauges continued at least into King Jeongjo´s reign. It serves as evidence that the precipitation measurement system from the early Joseon era was maintained well into the later period of the dynasty.


The Gongju rain gauge and the two pedestals provide exact information on their production dates and origins, an eloquent testimony to the birth of a significant and enduring innovation in agricultural science.


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Rain Gauge of the Chungcheong-do Provincial Office in Gongju Republic of Korea(National Treasure No. 329)


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The front (left) and back (right) sides of the Rain Gauge Pedestal of the Gyeongsang-do Provincial Office in Daegu Republic of Korea(National Treasure No. 330)


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Rain Gauge Pedestal of Imunwon at Changdeokgung Palace Republic of Korea(National Treasure No. 331)

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