Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chinese Units of Measure

Chinese Units of Measure
Originally uploaded by prototypo
I found this antique Chinese ruler in Seoul, ROK, last week. It uses the old Chinese units of length measure, the fēn, cùn and chǐ units.

The tiny fēn is about 3 mm. The cùn is traditionally the width of a person's thumb at the knuckle. The chǐ (or Chinese 'foot') is derived from the length of a human forearm, like a cubit. Or so says Wikipedia.

Those were hard-working people, to have thumbs as wide as a cùn.

The ruler is wooden, with brass inlays marking the units.