Chinese-Style Abacus or Suan-p'an, Used by Korean Settlers in Hawaii

Chinese-Style Abacus or Suan-p'an, Used by Korean Settlers in Hawaii

Usage conditions apply
This abacus fits in a wooden box with a wooden cross piece. There are nine parallel rods, with beads on each rod. Seven rods are made of bamboo, two of metal. Two beads on each rod are above the cross piece, five below. The beads are rounded, like those on Chinese abacuses. The base of the box slides out to the right.
According to donor Burgess, this abacus was the property of his grandfather, Kim Dong Kuen, and his wife, early Korean settlers in Hawaii. The Kims were caretakers at a privately owned beachfront home in the country. Burgess and his family would visit the beach in their model A Ford on Sunday afternoons to go swimming. Before Kim Dong Kuen died, he gave Burgess's grandfather this instrument, his prize abacus.
The 1930 U.S. Census lists a Kim Dong Kun, a resident of Honolulu born in about 1884 who emigrated from Korea in 1900. His wife also was born in Korea, emigrating in 1906. They had five children, all born in Hawaii. The family name was Kim.
Object Name
date made
ca 1900
Physical Description
wood (box, beads material)
metal (two rods, screws material)
bamboo (seven rods material)
overall: 3.2 cm x 25 cm x 17.5 cm; 1 1/4 in x 9 27/32 in x 6 7/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dana Tai Soon Burgess
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
My Computing Device
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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