Rain gauge, cast iron, designed by Jang Yeong-sil 1442, made in Korea, 1990
In 1442, some 200 years before data on rainfall was being kept in Europe, rain gauges of a design similar to this one were distributed to every province in Korea. The rain gauges were all of a uniform size adopted a standard unit of measurement. This enabled the emperor to keep accurate records whose data could then be used to improve agricultural technology in Korea.
These early rain gauges were designed by Jang Yeong-sil whose patron was King Sejong the Great who reigned the Choson Dynasty from 1418-1450. The rain gauge held by the Powerhouse Museum is a facsimile of those designed by Jang Yeong-sil and were donated to the museum by the Korean Office of Cultural Properties in 1992.
The significance of this object is in its relationship to the original Korean rain gauges which are held as National Treasures in Korea. These objects are credited with being early precursors to the rain gauges of today.
Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, March 2007
Osgood, C., The Koreans and their Culture, Charles Tuttle Company, Tokyo, 1951
Office of Public Information, Korea; Her History and Culture, Office of Public Information, Republic of Korea, 1954
Baek Seokgi, Jang Yeong-sil. Woongjin Publishing, 1987, cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jang_Yeong-sil, 29 October, 2007
The rain gauge is a facsimile of one dating from 1442. Although rain gauges had been produced in Korea prior to this date, it was not until 1442 that the design was standardised. This rain gauge was made in Korea in 1990, a facsimile of one made in 1442. This date is recorded in the "Sejong Sillok" (Veritable Records) of the reign of King Sejong.