The Abacus and the Numeral FrameThe Chinese Abacus
The counters used by European merchants moved along lines drawn on a surface. In the Chinese, Japanese, or Russian abacus, counters move along rods or wires held in a rectangular frame. Scholars disagree about how long such instruments have been made and about whether the Asian abacus was influenced by the counters of the Greeks. Both Chinese and Japanese abaci have a crossbar.Counters above the crossbar have a value of five, while those below represent one. In the Chinese abacus (suan-pan), there are two beads above the crossbar and five below.
"The Abacus and the Numeral Frame - The Chinese Abacus" showing 1 items.
- This abacus fits in a black wooden box with a wooden cross piece. Eleven parallel bamboo rods carry seven beads each. Two beads are above the cross piece, five below. The beads are rounded, like those on Chinese abaci. One rod is broken and another cracked. The abacus was received as a gift from the Department of Mathematics of Brown University in 1973. There are no marks by a maker.
- Currently not on view
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center