Cheugugi (Hangul: 측우기, Hanja: 測雨器) is the first well-known rain gauge invented and used by the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It was invented and supplied to each provincial offices during the King Sejong the Great's reign. As of 2010, only one example of the Cheugugi remains, known as the Geumyeong Cheugugi (Hangul: 금영측우기, Hanja: 錦營測雨器), which literally means "Cheugugi installed on the provincial office's yard." It is designated as National Treasures #561 of Korea and was installed in provincial office of Gongju city, 1837 by King Yeongjo, the 21st king of Joseon. In addition, the official record of the rainfall by Cheugugi from King Jeongjo's reign to Emperor Gojong's reign is preserved.
In the early days of the Joseon Dynasty, there was a system to measure and report a region's rainfall for the sake of agriculture. However, the method to measure rainfall in those days was primitive, measuring the depth of rain water in puddles.
This method could not tell the exact rainfall, because there are differences in the amount of rainwater absorbed into the ground by the nature of the local soil. To prevent errors of this kind, King Sejong the Great ordered the Gwansanggam (Hangul:관상감,Hanja:觀象監) (the Joseon kingdom's research institute of astronomy, geography, calendar and weather) to build a rainwater container, the Cheugugi, made of iron in August 1441 (according to the lunar calendar) based on the idea of his Crown Prince, later became Munjong of Joseon. In the early days of the Cheugugi, it was mainly used in the capital area only.
In 1442, the king ordered the Gwansanggam again to design a standardized system to measure and record the rainfall. He also ordered his provincial governors, appointed by the king, to install the same Cheugugi in the courtyard of each provincial office, where the governors would measure and record the rainfall.
It was originally made of iron, but there were copper and ceramic ones built later.
As it is described above, the Cheugugi was mainly made of iron. By observing the preserved one, it is generally characterized by its oil-drum shape which is fixed on the hexahedral stone support, Cheugudae (측우대). The reasonable height of the Cheugudae means the splashed water can't flow into the Cheugugi.
The depth of the preserved Cheugugi is about 32 cm and the diameter is about 15 cm.
It is estimated that the measuring rainfalls by the standardized Cheugugi was institutionalized from May 8, 1442 (lunar calendar). From that day, the word "Chegugi" came on the official records of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (조선왕조실록).
The rainfall is measured by dipping a ruler and recorded by poon (Hangul: 푼, Hanja: 分) units (approximately 0.303 cm (0.120 inch)). Furthermore, the information of the time when the rain began and stopped is recorded by each case, always, throughout the nation.
Some Cheugudaes continue to exist:
- The Gwansanggam Cheugudae
- Daegu Sunhwadang Cheugudae (established at Daegu)
- Changdeokgung Palace's Cheugudae (moved to the National Palace Museum of Korea)
- Tongyeong Cheugudae
- Yeon-gyeong-dang (the royal residence in forbidden garden of Changdeokgung Palace) Cheugudae
There is also Ma-jeon-gyo (Bridge) which is generally known as Supyo-gyo across the Cheonggyecheon (stream flows center of Joseon era's Seoul city (inside area of the Seoul wall), near the Gyungbok Palace). The generally known name originated from the Supyo-seok attached on the pier of the bridge. The Supyo-seok's meaning and function is "the water level gauge" of Cheonggyecheon, telling how much the stream's water level rises by rain. It was established in King Sejong the Great's reign (second year of his reign) and is existing nowadays. But 1958 when the Cheonggyecheon was covered as a road by the Korean government, it was moved to Jang-chung park and it is there. There was a plan to move the bridge to its original location, during the Cheonggyecheon restoration. But, unfortunately the plan can't be fulfilled, because there was a difference between the restored width of the Cheonggyecheon and the bridge's length. So, the bridge remains in Jang-chung Park.
- This statement is added by editor's observation of the Cheugugi's photo.
- 조희구·나일성, 〈18세기 한국의 기후변동 -강수량을 중심으로- 〉, 《동방학지》, 22
- 《세종실록》 96권, 5월 8일자 기사
- This statement is an abridged translation of "수표교" contents on wikipedia Korean mode.