This is a modern replica of the oldest instrument in the world which is known to be a compass. The spoon or ladle is of magnetic lodestone, and is supposed to be a symbolic representation of the Great Bear. The handle of the ladle points towards the South.
The base plate is made of bronze. The circular centre represents Heaven, and the square part represents Earth. There are Chinese characters representing the eight primary directions of north, north-east, east, etc. There are also separately marked the 24 points of the compass, and along the outer edge the 28 lunar mansions.