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The Empress and Mrs. CongerThe Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds$
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Grant Hayter-Menzies

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083008

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083008.001.0001

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Unlocking the gates

Unlocking the gates

(p.77) 8 Unlocking the gates
The Empress and Mrs. Conger

Grant Hayter-Menzies

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter describes Sarah Conger's fascination with the Imperial Observatory. The Imperial Observatory was built on the southeast corner of the old city wall in 1296 during the reign of Khublai Khan. Under the Mongols, the observatory (largely the work of Muslim astronomers) had consisted of a tower with a quadrant for determining the altitude of celestial bodies. A century and a quarter later, the city walls were pulled down and re-erected further south and east, leaving the observatory on its remaining corner of city wall. Sarah was enthralled by two things: the antiquity of the spot, and the fact that most of the extant instruments on the platform were not Chinese at all.

Keywords:   Sarah Conger, Imperial Observatory, Khublai Khan, Mongols, Muslim astronomers

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