Monday 24 August 2020

Cheomsongdae (South Korea, 1957)

A few posts ago, we discovered the world of definitive stamps – they’re the ones that nations produce as the everyday regular postage stamp, rather than special editions (ie, the quirky themed ones that more frequently populate this site). Here’s a rather lovely definitive from South Korea in 1957…

The building shown is the cheomsongdae which translates as “star-gazing tower” (it’s also a rather lovely word to say). It was constructed in the 7th century CE and is believed to be the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia, possibly the world. The tower is approaching 10 metres tall, with a rectangular base and a window or entrance part way up the wall. From above, the shape of the tower resembles the Korean character for a well.

It gets better… the base of the tower is made up of 12 stones, there are 12 stones above and 12 below the window (perhaps reflecting 24 solar terms in a year in some Asian calendars) and the tower consists of 365 stones. A survey in the early 1960s actually counted 366 stones, but one is tucked just under the roof and is not visible from the outside of the tower. So they even built a secret Leap Day into the structure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheomseongdae

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