Re: Hangzhou Numerals

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Sat Sep 04 1999 - 18:40:22 EDT

I had the same question about the origin of the name of those numerals as I
was translating ISO 10646 into French.

This is what I found in G. Ifrah's Histoire universelle des chiffres (2
volumes of a thousand pages each, I'm not sure this edition has been
translated into English), vol. I, p. 633

To the various forms presented above, one needs to add the very special
aspect of the signs used only by shopkeepers to indicate the price of their
wares. Called gn m z ["kan ma tseu" in EFEO transcription] ("secret
marks"), these numerals are those that every foreigner visiting the center
of China must absolutely know if he is to understand the amount of his

G. Ifrah has two variants for numeral five (the form represented in the
character charts and a kind of z in latin script) and numeral one hundred
(a kind of hooked theta and some character looking like a 3) (not in ISO

G. Ifrah (p. 651) also indicated that these numbers are used in Japan and
names them "commercial forms".

I am therefore as perplexed as others as to why these numerals are named
"Hangzhou" in English.

P. Andries
Dorval (Qubec)

-----Message d'origine-----
De : akerbeltz.alba <>
: Unicode List <>
Date : 4 sept. 1999 18:06
Objet : Hangzou Numerals

>Done some more reading:
>Sidney Lau's Contonese dictionary gives yet another name and calls them
>Soochow characters ...but no real info.
>Found a snippet more in Mathew's Chinese English dictionary, he calls them
>fa mh jih as well, page 1178 if you happen to have access to this
>dictionary it says:
>"VIII The Chinese numerals
>The Mh Jih are commonly used on accounts where no need exists for special
>caution, they are used as in the above examples"
>In the dictionary body itself he under Fa Mh he says "figures, the
>abbreviated forms of the figures"
>The only thing I disagree with are his examples above 100, but it might be
>that thats boiling down to regional differences in usage.
>... seems that these numerals were a third set, the first "complicated" set
>used to prevent fraud, then the "normal ones" for everyday use and then the
>abbrevaited ones ...
>I'll keep looking

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