VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Sundial
GPM-2873
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This is a portable sundial made of ivory. The compass is missing but the needle of the sundial is well preserved. The Chinese characters at the front mean: "The altitude of the north pole in Seoul is 37° 39′ 15″. The 24 divisions of the year are indicated. We assume that it was made by Kang Kyeon in the autumn of 1873 because the name of the manufacturer and the year it was manufactured are shown in Chinese characters on the reverse side.

History of the Object
This was the most precise among the sun-watches made during the Joseon Dynasty, and yet it was the smallest. It was carried on the body and was used for measuring time. It showed Seoul's latitude as the standard. One half of the sun-watch shows daytime with a visual angle line engraved on it. There are also 24 solar terms and solar term lines from the winter solstice to the summer solstice engraved on it. These portable sun-watches are very rare relics. They are made with extraordinary manufacturing talents. They are precious objects showing the precision and excellence of the scientific machinery and manufacturing technologies of the Joseon Dynasty. Angbuilgu, a type of sundial invented during the early Joseon era, was produced continuously from the time it was first made during the reign of King Sejong of Joseon Dynasty until the end of the Joseon era. It is a representative sun-watch. It was widely used at royal palaces, government offices and sometimes at the homes of yangbans (the upper classes of society). There are many that are made of bronze or stone but there are also porcelain ones. As for portables, there are two types: the simple one with the surface carved sunken-in and a needle propped up in the center; and the precise one which has a magnet attached to it, accurately displaying South and North, and on which one the time was measured.

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Type
Other 
Materials
ivory, metal 
Measurements
Width 6.4 Height 1.7 Length 4.2  
Creator name
Kang Kyeon  
Creator date
1843-1909 
Where it was made
Korea; Seoul 
Geography
Korea 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; Joseon Dynasty (1873, King Gojong, 10) 
Function
Portable Sundial  
Acquisition
Acquired in 1994 by the Gyeonggi Provincial Museum from Hyeon, Guang Han, an art dealer.  
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Gyeonggi Provincial Museum 
Museum
Gyeonggi Provincial Museum 
Credit line
 

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