Suan-p'an, or Chinese Abacus

This instrument sits in a rosewood box with rosewood cross piece. Fifteen parallel bamboo rods pass through the cross piece. Each rod has two wooden beads above and five below the cross piece. The beads are rounded, like those on other Chinese abaci. Brass corner pieces hold the box together.
Frank A.Taylor, a staff member in the Department of Arts and Industries at the United States National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, first lent the abacus to the National Collections in 1928 for use in a display of calculating instruments. He lent the object as an example of a modern Chinese abacus. He donated it in 1960.There is no mark by a maker.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1925
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
rosewood (overall material)
bamboo (overall material)
overall: 2.7 cm x 37 cm x 17 cm; 1 1/16 in x 14 9/16 in x 6 11/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Frank A. Taylor

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