National Palace Museum of Korea

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Stone Constellation Chart 이미지

Stone Constellation Chart

Artifact No.
Changdeok12937 / National treasure228
Period
Material
Stone
Dimensions
211.0×123.0cm T. 12.0cm
  • 28 별자리 지도를 새긴돌.jpg

Substance

This marble constellation chart was engraved in 1395, the 4th year of the Joseon Dynasty. It is the world's second oldest surviving astronomical chart, the oldest being from Southern Song China and dated 1247, Emperor Chunyou's reign. Its Korean title, Cheonsang-yeolchabunya-jido (天象列次分野之圖), means “an illustration of the heaven’s shape in sequential sections”.


Each side of the stone tablet features the twenty-eight constellations in twelve sections, the latitude of celestial equator, 2,932 Chinese characters and 1,467 stars. According to the inscription by Gwon Geun, a contemporary scholar official, this astronomical chart was based on a rubbed copy from a stone astronomical chart of the Goguryo Kingdom (1st Century B.C.E. - 668 C.E.) and carved on stone with some stellar positions revised.


The constellation chart on the back carries identical but upside-down engravings except for the placement of the title at the top. Surviving rubbings were made from this side of the stele.
Constellation charts of the Joseon dynasty were comprehensive results of studies and observations through various astronomical equipments. The golden age of Joseon astronomy was during the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418-1450) when several publications on celestial charts were produced and astronomical and astrometeorological phenomena were observed. A replica of the stele was made in 1687 during the reign of King Sukjong, which is designated as Treasure No.837.

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