Old Russian measures of length

Since ancient times, a person has always been a measure of length and weight: how much he will stretch out his hand, how much he can lift on his shoulders, etc.

The system of Old Russian measures of length included the following basic measures: verst, fathom, arshin, elbow, span and vershok.

ARSHIN is an old Russian measure of length, equal, in modern terms, to 0.7112m. Arshin was also called a measuring ruler, on which, usually, divisions in vershoks were applied.

There are various versions of the origin of the yardstick. Perhaps, initially, "arshin" denoted the length of a human step (about seventy centimeters, with ordinary walking on the plain, at an average pace) and was the base value for other large measures of determining length and distance (fathom, verst). The root "AR" in the word arshin - in the Old Russian language (and in other, among neighboring peoples) means "EARTH", "surface of the earth", "furrow" and indicates that this measure could be used to determine the length the path traveled on foot. There was another name for this measure - STEP. In practice, counting could be done in pairs of steps of an adult, normal build ("small fathoms"; one-two - one, one-two - two, one-two - three ...), or threes ("official fathoms"; one-two -three - one, one-two-three - two ...), and when measuring in steps of small distances, step-by-step counting was used. In the future, they also began to use, under this name, an equal value - the length of the arm.

For small measures of length, the base value was the measure used from time immemorial in Russia - "a span" (from the 17th century - a length equal to a span was called differently - "a quarter of an arshin", "a quarter", "chet"), from which visually, easily you could get smaller shares - two inches (1/2 inch) or an inch (1/4 inch).

Merchants selling goods, as a rule, measured it with their yardstick (ruler) or in a quick way - measuring it from the shoulder. In order to exclude measurement, the authorities introduced, as a standard, the "state arshin", which is a wooden ruler, at the ends of which metal tips with the state stamp were riveted.

STEP - the average length of a human stride = 71 cm. One of the most ancient measures of length.

PYAD'S (pyadnitsa) is an ancient Russian measure of length. SMALL SPAN (they said - "span"; since the 17th century it was called - "quarter") - the distance between the ends of the apart thumb and forefinger (or middle) fingers = 17, 78 cm.

GREAT SPAN - the distance between the ends of the thumb and little finger (22-23 cm).

P I D L WITH A TUMBLE ("a span with a somersault", according to Dal - 'a spade with a somersault') - a span with an increase in two joints of the index club = 27-31 cm

Our old icon painters measured the size of icons in spans: “nine icons - seven spans (1 3/4 arshins). Pure Tikhvin on gold - pyadnitsa (4 vershok). Icon of George the Great deeds in three spans (in 1arshin) "

VERSTA is an old Russian travel measure (its earlier name was `` field ''). This word was originally called the distance traveled from one plow turn to another during plowing. For a long time, the two names were used in parallel, as synonyms. There are known references in written sources of the 11th century. In the manuscripts of the 15th century. there is a record: "field of plantings 7 and 50" (length of 750 sazhens). Before Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, 1000 fathoms were counted 1 verst. Under Peter the Great, one verst was equal to 500 sazhens, in modern terms - 213, 36 X 500 = 1066, 8 m. "Verst" was also called a verst post on the road. The size of a mile has repeatedly changed depending on the number of fathoms included in it and the size of fathoms. The Code of 1649 established a "boundary verst" of 1 thousand fathoms. Later, in the 18th century, along with it, the "traveling mile" of 500 sazhens ("five hundred miles") began to be used.

INTERVAL VERSTA - Old Russian unit of measurement, equal to two versts. A verst of 1000 fathoms (2, 16 km) was widely used as a boundary measure, usually when determining pastures around large cities, and on the outskirts of Russia, especially in Siberia, and for measuring distances between settlements.

The 500-fathom verst was used somewhat less often, mainly for measuring distance in the European part of Russia. Long distances, especially in Eastern Siberia, were determined in days of travel. In the XVIII century. boundary versts are gradually being replaced by track versts, and the only verst in the 19th century. there remains a mile "track", equal to 500 fathoms.

SAZHEN is one of the most common measures of length in Russia. There were more than ten fathoms of various purposes (and, accordingly, size). "Swing fathom" - the distance between the ends of the fingers of the widely spaced hands of an adult man. "Oblique fathom" - the longest: the distance from the toe of the left leg to the end of the middle finger of the right hand raised up. Used in the phrase: "he has a slanting fathom in his shoulders" (meaning - a hero, a giant)

This ancient measure of length was mentioned by Nestor in 1017. The name sazhen comes from the verb syat (reach) - how much you could reach with your hand. To determine the meaning of the Old Russian fathom, a large role was played by the discovery of a stone on which the inscription was carved in Slavic letters: "In the summer of 6576 (1068) indict of 6 days, Gleb the prince measured ... 10, 000 and 4000 fathoms". From a comparison of this result with the measurements of topographers, the value of fathoms 151.4 cm was obtained. The results of measurements of churches and the value of Russian folk measures coincided with this value. There were planted measuring ropes and wooden "folds" that were used in measuring distances in construction and in land surveying.

According to historians and architects, there were more than 10 fathoms and they had their own names, were incommensurable and not multiples of one another. Fathoms: city - 284, 8 cm, untitled - 258, 4 cm, great - 244, 0 cm, Greek - 230, 4 cm, state - 217, 6 cm, royal - 197, 4 cm, church - 186, 4 cm, folk - 176, 0 cm, masonry - 159, 7 cm, simple - 150, 8 cm, small - 142, 4 cm and another untitled - 134, 5 cm (data from one source), as well as - yard, pavement.

MAHOVA SAZHEN - the distance between the ends of the middle fingers outstretched to the sides of the hands is 1.76m.

SLAVE SAZHEN (originally "kosovaya") - 2, 48m.

Fathoms were used before the introduction of the metric system of measures.

ELBOW was equal to the length of the arm from the fingers to the elbow (according to other sources - "the distance in a straight line from the elbow to the end of the extended middle finger"). The value of this most ancient measure of length, according to various sources, ranged from 38 to 47 cm.From the 16th century, it is gradually replaced by the yardstick and in the 19th century it is almost never used.

The elbow is a primordially Old Russian measure of length, known already in the 11th century. The value of the Old Russian cubit at 10.25-10.5 vershoks (on average approximately 46-47 cm) was obtained from a comparison of measurements in the Jerusalem temple made by Abbot Daniel, and later measurements of the same dimensions in an exact copy of this temple - in the main temple of the New Jerusalem Monastery on the Istra River (XVII century). The elbow was widely used in trade as a particularly convenient measure. In the retail trade of canvas, broadcloth, linen - loko t was the main measure. In large wholesale trade - linen, woolen cloth, etc., came in the form of large cuts - "sets", the length of which at different times and in different places ranged from 30 to 60 cubits (in places of trade, these measures had a specific, quite definite meaning)

PALM = 1/6 cubit (six-palmed cubit)

The TOP was equal to 1/16 arshine, 1/4 quarter. In modern terms - 4.44cm. The name "Top" comes from the word "top". In the literature of the 17th century. there are also shares of the top - half-tops and quarter-tops.

When determining the height of a person or animal, the count was carried out after two arshins (obligatory for a normal adult): if it was said that the person being measured was 15 vershoks in height, then this meant that he was 2 arshins 15 vershoks, i.e. 209 cm.