Talk:Chinese units of measurement

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Nicely done![edit]

Very nice work. It needs more citations, however. =) Xaa 23:53, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Why? I see only one on Units of measurement Meandmyself 02:17, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Added Ping[edit]

I added ping (plain) which is used in Taiwan.

203.69.36.50 04:23, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

I removed ping, as it is has never been used in China. It is the measure of one tatami mat, which is a measurement that came from Japan, not China. Please see Taiwanese units of measurement, which is a quite different system than the Chinese system. Twocs 16:38, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

land measure[edit]

Recently I was watching World News on cable and clearly heard PING used as a unit of land measure. Is there a chance that it is a different transliteration of QING ? The person using the word seemed reputable, and used the word PING several times (often enough to make clear that it he was using the word PING) in place of acre or hectare. John5Russell3Finley (talk) 16:15, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

SI units in China[edit]

I've asked a question at the China talk page about the adoption of SI/metric units in China. DirkvdM 07:54, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

時辰[edit]

時辰 shichen are far from obsolete, but quite often still used in religious practice, as well as in almanacs to plan auspicious dates. Change? --Aunty Entity 03:54, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

small units first[edit]

I just completed a quick survey of all the units articles. Of those that I consider essentially complete (2+ scales, no factual disputes), all but this one and Maltese are written with teh smallest units first. Unless anyone has any objections, I suggest tabularising the units in this article and changing the order to match the de facto small-first standard. Rhialto 04:54, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Ok, I finishd this bout of tabularising and editing. Feel free to revert now, or whatever it is you do when you disagree with someone else :p Rhialto 04:35, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Hi Joe Kress. I noticed you deleted all the equals signs I had placed in the tables. I used those to indicate that those were exact equivalences and officially defined as such, with a tilde indicating an equivalency that is known to be approximate, and no notation to mark those that are unconfirmed either way. Was this a bad style to adopt? Is there a better way to indicate this point? Rhialto 06:59, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

I thought that all the '=' were inadvertently copied from the non-tabular version. Thank you for giving your reason. However, I think they detract from the readibility of the table. A simple explanatory note should suffice. — Joe Kress 09:10, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Hanzi vs Chinese in tables[edit]

I reverted the blanket changing of the header text in the tables. Hanzi is correct; the column refers specifically to Chinese characters (aka hanzi), and not to romanised Chinese text. Rhialto 06:16, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

PHOTO[edit]

Need photo for the scale, there unique scale from traditional chinese mandarin medecine scale only have one plate and one stone pendulum to weight or balancing the wieght.

Yes we do need to replace the photo. Yialanliu (talk) 14:16, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Hong Kong units of length?[edit]

Please forgive my ignorance, but being a "native" Hong Kong guy, I've never heard of the length measurement system named "Hong Kong Units" stated in the article - at least not in common practice nowadays (We use mostly SI and Imperial units). Was it used in the past, or is it used by some professions nowadays? Could somebody provide appropriate citation?

I feel that the whole article lacks citation as well. --supernorton 06:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The Hong Kong units are fully cited with official definitions given by the HK government itself (linked in the references/external links). The fact that they may not see regular usage doesn't change the fact that they are real units.
The mainland Chinese units are utterly without references, and I would dearly love to have references for those. I'd also love to have data on historical (pre-metrification/decimalisation) Chinese units. Rhialto 07:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you Rhialto. Would it be better if we add a few words to specify that these units are practically no longer in use? It'd be a bit confusing to foreigners (and local Hong Kong people as well) that these units seem to be commonly used in Hong Kong. --supernorton 16:05, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

They are used much more frequently in medicine specifically with herbs and Eastern medicine. Yialanliu (talk) 14:16, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Note by anonymous newbie: The Hong Kong Units are not used much anymore. However they are found in the Dictionary of Hong Kong English, from HKU Press. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 202.40.218.20 (talk) 01:08, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Some Historical Weights and Measures[edit]

I have extracted some historical weights and measures from China which could eventually be inserted in the article:

a) Chinese weights

Peng Xinwei: A Monetary History of China (Zhongguo Huobi Shi). Translated by Edward H. Kaplan. Center for East Asian Studies. Western Washington University, 1994, p. XL. The following units of weight are recorded by the translator, Edward H. Kaplan:

1 lei = 10 millet seeds

10 lei = 1 zhu = 0.64 grams (Han Dynasty)

24 zhu = 1 liang

Han Dynasty: 1 liang (ounce) = 19.2 grams

Western Han: 1 liang = 16.4 grams

Wang Mang: 1 liang = 15.36 grams (Han Dynasty, according to The Cambridge History of China, volume 1)

1 liang (ounce) = 37.3 grams (Tang, Song, Yuan Dynasties), = 1.3 English ounces (Ming dynasty)

16 liang = 1 jin (catty)

1 treasury ounce (= kuping tael) = 37 grams (Qing Dynasty)

1 customs ounce = 37.68 grams (Qing Dynasty)

1 Canton ounce = 37.57 grams (Qing Dynasty)

1 English ounce = 31.1 grams.

Spalding, William F.: Eastern Exchange Currency and Finance. Third edition. Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., London 1920 (The first edition was published in 1917). p. 363: 1 tael = 583.3 gr (1 grain = 0.0648 grams). The real weight of the tael should be 1 ⅓ oz. avoirdupois, say, 37.783 grams. The major taels used as weight standard and standard of value in 20th century China were:

1. The Haikwan tael, in which all duties levied by the Imperial Maritime Customs are calculated. On the basis fixed by the British Treaty of 1858, it is reckoned to contain 583.3 gr silver. Its value compared with 100 Kuping taels is 98.384 gr.

     100 Haikwan taels are equal to 111.40 taels (Shanghai currency).

2. Kuping tael is the one in which most Government dues, except those pertaining to the Customs, and those collected in copper cash, were levied in China.

100 Haikwan taels = 101.642395 Kuping taels

100 Kuping taels = 109.60 Shanghai taels.

3. The Tsao-ping tael is understood to be the one in which exchange rates are quoted by banks in Shanghai. Its weight is given as 565.65; 565.967 or 565.704 gr. Troy.

4.Canton tael. It is supposed to weigh 579.85 gr. Troy. 100 Canton taels = 102.5 Tsao-ping taels.

Chinese currency units (westen terms in brackets):

10 li (cash) = 1 fen (candareen)

10 fen = 1 qian (mace)

10 qian = 1 liang (tael; ounce)

The Mexican dollar was valued at 0.72 liang

Wang, Helen: “How Much for a Camel? A New Understanding of Money on the Silk Road before AD 800.” In: Whitfield, Susan with Ursula Sims-Williams (editors): The Silk Road. Trade, Travel, War Faith. Serindia Publications, Chicago, 2004, pp. 24-33. Discussing early Chinese coins (ban liang and wu zhu) which were issued until 621 AD when they were replaced by Kaiyuan tongbao coins of the Tang dynasty (618-907) the author states (p. 25): “Both are named after their inscriptions, which refer to their original weight (one liang weighed 15.25 grams and comprised 24 zhu).

Fedorov, Michael: “The Works and Archives of Chokan Valikhanov as a Source of Information about the Trade and Prices in East Tukestan and Adjacent Regions of Central Asia”. Central Asian Journal, vol. 45, no. 2, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 2001, pp. 230-253. Gives the weight of one lan [sic for liang] as 37.795 or 35.32 grams (Source: Fengler, Gierow, Unger, 1982, p. 274.

b) other weights and measures

Bielenstein, Hans: Diplomacy and Trade in the Chinese World 589-1276. In: Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch der Orientalistik, Section four: China, edited by J.E. Teiser and M. Kern, Brill, Leiden and Boston, 2005. p. 587 Weights and Measures. I give below those of the T´ang times, following Wittfogel, Karl A. and Fêng Chia-Shêng: History of Chinese Society, Liao, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, vol 36, Philadelphia, 1949).

1 peck (tou) = 5.944 litres or 362.73 cubic inches

1 bushel (hu or shih) = 59.44 litres or 1.6869 U.S. bushels

1 inch (ts´un) = 3.11 cm or 1.2244 inches

1 foot (ch´ih) = 31.1 cm or 12.244 inches

1 mile (li) = 0.559 km or 0.3478 miles

1 ounce (liang) = 37.3 grams or 1.315 ounces

1 catty (chin) = 0.5968 kg or 1.3129 pounds

1 bolt of silk = 0.5598 X 12.44 metres or 22 X 489.76 inches.


Some time after a republican form of government had been established in China (1911), the Chinese weight units were adjusted to the French metric system. The catty, now called shih chin [shi jin], i.e. “new catty” was reduced to 500 grams. It was now divided into 10 liang of 50 grams each, instead of the previous 16 liang of 37 grams each. Similarly the Chinese mile (li) was reduced to 0.500 km and became known as shi li, i.e. “new mile”. The Chinese Ministry of Information (compiled by): China Handbook 1937-1943. A Comprehensive Survey of Major Developments in China in Six Years of War, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1943, Conversion tables for weights and measures. Previously one jin was equivalent to 16 liang or 595.392 grams.

--Clemensmarabu (talk) 09:17, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Chinese Measurement of Length - the chih and the cun[edit]

I have a Chinese-British ruler that measures 1 Chinese "chih" and 18 British inches. The ruler is made in China in the late first republican period 1911-1949, before standard metrication by the PRC government. The "chih" is 14+5/8 inch, i.e. 14.625 inches, and the "cun", i.e. 1/10 "chih", is 1.46 inches or 3.7 cm.

I wish I can enclose pictures of the ruler for Wiki editors and readers per view. But don't know how. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.69.70.71 (talk) 17:01, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that would be the standard chi of that eras. Thank you for the offer of the photograph! If you could upload the image file (JPG) to Wiki Commons, using the interface at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Upload , that would be much appreciated! That would require registering as a Wiki Commons user, and choosing a license (they have a "recommended" ones - basically, saying that you've taken the picture, and you release the rights), but I hope that's not too difficult. If it's too much trouble, you can email the photo to me (vmenkov AT gmail DOT com), and I can post it for you; but then you will still need to send a certain "copyright release" form by email (I will send you one). They are pretty strict about these formalities at Wikimedia. Vmenkov (talk) 00:04, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Modern Chinese Units: Mass[edit]

Decimal system has been fully adopted by mainland Chinese citizens. They use jin as 500 grams and liang as 50 grams. However, many ancient idioms are still hexadecimal-based, eg. ban jin ba liang(半斤八两, "half a jin, eight liang", which has the same meaning as "Six of one, half a dozen of the other". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shadowtrance (talkcontribs) 02:38, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

What does "modern" mean?[edit]

Is this article specifically about the modern evolution of historical units (in which case the title needs clarification), or is it about what units Chinese people actually use right now? I'm not sure where I'd go about getting a source (maybe a map?), but I'm living in Shanghai right now, and no one measures things in 市里. It's always 公里, which is exactly equivalent to kilometer. I haven't gone out to the countryside much, but I've literally never seen 市里 used.

Similarly, but less strongly, if you go to a local market to buy vegetables, they will undoubtedly measure in 斤 (or 市斤 if you prefer, for clarity, but they will only say 斤), but if you buy medicine or cosmetics or anything from a supermarket or other modernized store, they will undoubtedly be in SI units of either 公斤 (kilogram) or 克 (gram).

I'm left confused, because this article seems written like it's talking about what people in China use right now, but it's not accurate for that. Perhaps we just need to soften the language at the top about "ubiquitous" use, and strengthen the language about SI units being the official system? Carychan (talk) 03:36, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Good point. I agree that we should make readers aware that SI units are the official system in Mainland China while the traditional system exists only for less formal uses.

However, I'm not sure about the ubiquity one: Shanghai is one of the most modernized and westernized area of China, and isn't that representative in such a topic. To my knowledge, the length units and weight units are still used a lot in spoken language.

By the way, interestingly, although cloths are measured with 尺, people's height are not. --166.111.68.162 (talk) 17:56, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

By the way, if someone puts "Taiwan is now fully metricated" he/she should give some references. I visited Taiwan and found them still use 斤 and 两 in markets. And the fact they are still hexadecimal confused me once before I got used to it. --166.111.68.162 (talk) 18:00, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Taiwan is NOT fully metricated, not in local street market. That should be taken off. That's simply not true. Also the 斤 used is similar if not exact the same to HK's. --Huggie (talk) 13:05, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Troy units[edit]

A correction is needed. The section "Hong Kong Troy units" refers to "troy grams" and "troy milligrams". There is no such thing as a "troy gram" or "troy milligram". A "troy tael" is defined in Hong Kong law (therein referred to as a "tael troy") as being 37.429 grams (not troy grams). Other corrections may be needed as well, e.g., the conversion factor from troy tael to troy ounce seems to be off (the article says "~1.32 troy ounces", should be "~1.20337 troy ounces"). For more information, do a google search on "tael troy" within the "gov.hk" domain. -- HLachman (talk) 18:02, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Looks like someone in June fixed the problem with non-existent "troy" metric unit names. Good! Today, I fixed the problem with the troy conversion factors (non-troy factors were there by mistake). One other thing: The June changes seem to have included changing some (not all) of the "approximately" symbols from single-tilde (which literally means "approximately") to double-tilde (which equates to the verbal phrase "is approximately equal to"), creating an inconsistent mix of both symbols. I put them all back to single-tilde. -- HLachman (talk) 11:11, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Precision!?[edit]

Units of Length: all conversions of chi to meter are given with precision of 4 digits - many of these as 0.xy00 or 0.xyz0. Are these conversions really known to a precision of a 10th of a millimetre?? And is it true that by sheer accident these centuries old units are just multiples of exactly 10 or 100 tenths of a millimetre? I will never ever believe this! Reilinger (talk) 13:46, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

Get real[edit]

Yes, "mass" is technically correct, but the sources don't say "Mass and measures", do they? Come on, let's keep Wikipedia nice and accessible please. 219.73.104.157 (talk) 03:07, 11 August 2013 (UTC)