Another nail in Hangzhou's coffin

From: John Jenkins (
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 19:45:51 EST

I went through a number of my references last night and was able to find
only one that talks about what Unicode calls "Hangzhou numerals." This is
from Joseph Needham and Wang Ling, Science and Civilisation in China, vol.
3, p. 5, n. i. (Cambridge: University Press, 1959), describing a table
showing various forms of Chinese numerals over the ages.

"Column J gives the forms which the visitor to China today will probably
find on his restaurant bill. They are known by the name of ma tzu (碼子) or
an ma tzu (暗碼子) (confidential weight numerals), and do not appear in
print before the Suan Fa Tsung of +1593 (see below, p. 51). They were
associated with the formerly great commercial city of Suchow in Chiangsu.
The curious form for 10,000 has been said to date only from the Thang, but
one may see it on Chou knife-money (Ku Chhüan Hui, pt. 2, ch. 2, p. 8b)."

My copy of the Big Five doesn't call them anything, and CNS 11643-1992 calls
them "Chinese numerals."

However, I've found some on-line references to the Big Five that do call
them "Hangzhou numerals." I can't tell, however, if this is picking up on
Unicode's name or the other way around.

Lee Collins speculates that the confusion ultimately comes from popular
coupling of Suzhou and Hangzhou in Chinese literature.

John H. Jenkins

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:59 EDT