Chinese numbers –

In Superhistory we have already seen what the history of numbers is, or in fact we have explained in detail what numbers like Roman numbers or Arabic numbers consist of. On this occasion I want to talk to you about the Chinese numbers that will perhaps be somewhat more complicated for our understanding since in fact they have several representations.

The Chinese actually have three numbering systems (which we will now see) so it may be somewhat more complicated for us to understand it. In addition, we cannot forget the written representation of each number and that it certainly also has some difficulty when it comes to writing correctly.

Chinese numbers

  • To go back somewhat to the origin of Chinese numerology, we can say that the various maritime and economic transactions made China develop a number system and that it would begin to be used from approximately 1500 BC.
  • This origin of numbers consisted of a series of symbols, which multiplied each other When representing large numbers, for example, if they had to represent 5,100, they first wrote the symbol for 5 followed by the symbol for 1,000 and then the symbol for 7 followed by the symbol for 100.
  • In this way we can say that its number system is perhaps similar to indo-arabicin which, according to position of the symbol, it is multiplied by 1, 10, 100, 1,000, etc. and then everything is added as we see in the operation that you have in the image above.
  • Furthermore, in the Hindu-Arabic system, if an integer is longer, it is always greater than a shorter one. It depends on how many “positions” you have.
  • We can say that in this numbering we will find nine characters that represent the numbers from one to nine, while there are also other symbols that represent larger numbers What tens, hundreds, thousands...
  • From here on, there are two sets of Chinese numeric characters: one used for the colloquial Writing, and the other that is used for everything that has to do with business, and financial transactions. This numerical typology is known by the name of dàxiě (traditional Chinese: 大寫, simplified Chinese: 大写), and was born because traditional numbering was very easy to copy and falsify, so another one was created in which «extra» strokes had to be represented.

Manual gestures for Chinese numbers:

  • On the other hand, it can be said that Chinese numerology has manual gestures for its representation, and in this way the five fingers of one hand they can represent the numbers from one to five, the numbers of 6 to 10 have special signs that can be used in business in day-to-day communication.
  • This is the way to represent the Chinese numbers from 1 to 10 (via wikipedia)
    1. Extended index finger.
    2. Straight index and middle fingers forming a V.
    3. Extended index, middle and ring fingers.
    4. All fingers extended except the thumb, which is closed.
    5. Extended thumb and index finger.
    6. Little finger and thumb separated, the other fingers closed (symbolic of the Chinese number “six”: 六, liù).
    7. The tips of the thumbs touch. Only the thumb and the first two fingers are open, the rest are closed.
      • In Taiwan and Hong Kong it is done with the thumb and forefinger.
    8. The thumb and forefinger are spread apart (like an “L”), both hands facing each other, the other fingers closed (八, bā “eight”).
      • In Taiwan and Hong Kong, the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger.
    9. All fingers closed except the index finger, which shows an open hook at the base (九, jiǔ “nine”).
      • In Taiwan and Hong Kong, the thumb and three other fingers
    10. It can be represented in the following ways:
      • Hand clenched in the form of a fist, turned towards the observer.
      • Crossed index and middle fingers.
      • Both index fingers extended, symbolizing a cross (十, shí “Ten”).

I leave you video now of the Chinese numbers:

Other articles of interest in Overhistory: