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Purple Mountain Observatory

purple-mountainPurple Mountain Observatory, which is under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also known as Zijin Shan Observatory, is situated at the third peak of Mt. Zijin on the east of Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province.

It stands 267 meters above the sea level. It was built in 1929 and starting in operation in 1934. In 1934, an observatory was founded on the mountain, the sole one prior to China's national liberation. After long decades of development, the observatory is now the largest in China, boasting many ancient astronomical instruments. Also on display at the observatory are bronze astronomical instruments from the Ming dynasty.

purple-mountain01Situated on peak of Zijinshan, this third largest of China’s observatories was built in 1934. This is a small but fascinating collection on display of magnificent Ming reproductions of early astrological instructions: a celestial globe, an armillary sphere detector first made over 2.000 year ago. The last two instruments had a disturbed history. In 1900, Germans absconded with the earthquake detector but it was returned, along with the other instruments taken as spoils of war in 1919. In the early 1930s, the Japanese tried unsuccessfully to remove the gnomon; they even cut the base in half.

If you climb into the platform of one of the observatory domes, you will find yourselves above the tree lines, and, unfurling below you, is a magnificent view of the entire city of Nanjing and the Yangtze River in a fine day. Completed in the first half of 2000 in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, the sculpture, named “Pilgrimage to Buddhist Heaven,” weighs about 500 kilometers and is 78 centimeters high, 84 centimeters wide and 56 centimeters thick. It took Gu Yongjun, a famous Chinese sculptor and master craftsman, five years to complete. He worked on it in the city’s Jade Article Factory. The sculpture features 88 carvings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and arhats.

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