Elbow - the measure of length.

elbow as part of the body, or rather, "the place to fold the hand," is well known.Also, no one raises questions and surprise the second meaning of the word pertaining to clothing.This place is on the sleeve, where it comes into contact with the elbow.But today, not everyone knows that for several centuries the word is widely used in the third, it is now obsolete meaning: the elbow - a measure of length.She has at different times used by many nations around the world, including the first inhabitants of the ancient Russian state, and later - the Russian Empire.

Elbow - measure length?

The cause of this unusual from the standpoint of modern man the word was actually quite simple.Before the advent of the traditional centimeters, and other well-known to us today, the units were easiest to focus on what is familiar.This, for example, various parts of the human body.In addition, they have always been "with him."What is the length of the fingers and hands, or the average value of the pitch?How much weight

a person can lift at one time?What is the distance between stretched thumb and forefinger of the hand?Answers to these and other similar questions in the olden days helped determine the weight, length, height of objects.Of course, these data are approximate and usually different, but in the complete absence of a common system of measurement for all they are almost completely solved the problem of the definition of variables.Trying to improve and enhance the results of your work, people gradually came to the conclusion that in certain regions (sometimes even within the same state) for each unit were secured very specific data.

than used in the old days, our compatriots

ancient measure of length on Russian lands might have different names: inch, inch, cubit, yard (or step), seven feet, miles.Some appeared earlier, others later, but they are all rather long represented the state in the conventional system of calculation.Small units were widely used in the domestic sphere, the last two - more often to determine the long distances between the postal stations and settlements.

Measure elbow was widespread in the commercial business and at first was perfect merchants and owners of shops in the sale of small pieces of cloth, canvas, cloth.Landlords using it can easily determine the length of the rope of hemp or yarn from wool skein.Elbow and used in construction, for example, to determine the size of window and door openings.

In Russia, there were several versions of this simple and easy steps.So, to distinguish more elbow, which twice exceeded the normal length of the arms, and was from the shoulder to the fingertips.For a time he was the most popular system of measurement in trade (later a similar way to measure steel yards).There were also incomplete, dvuhladonny, Iwanski (he was formalized in Veliky Novgorod and the surrounding area) elbow.For at least five or six centuries, this ancient measure of length was recognized officially used in all territory of the Russian state.The very word "elbow" for a long time been associated primarily with this value.It is only since the beginning of the XVI century in the written sources was secured him familiar to us the value - a bend in the arm.

how to determine the size of the elbow

main question, which is usually interested in people discovering today has withdrawn from use of the word "Elbow - this is how much?»

In search of an answer, you must first turn to official sources - explanatorydictionaries.They are very well-known and respected compilers of C and D. Ushakov Ozhegov in one of the values ​​gives a similar definition, now marked as "obsolete."They elbow - a measure of length, be used on the territory of the Old Russian state and is equal to about half a meter.However, if we refer to other literature, you can find a completely different figures.The most common are 46-47 cm. Somewhere you can find the size of 38-46 cm and even 50 cm. Of course, by itself the question: "What is the elbow was in the old days and what has caused such a difference in determining its length?"

Reasoning on this topic, we should remember that initially, before the spread of numbers and units of various sizes, the "source" for the determination of their size, including the same elbow, were part of the human body.However, all people have different physical characteristics and capabilities.Consequently, the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hands of the middle finger and a clenched fist (this is determined by the size of this one) everyone was individual.It turns out that on the territory of almost every province in the Russian state the length of the elbow was different from the others.To somehow come to bring order and uniformity in at least one area, mayors are sometimes set for this unit of specific samples, and then they have focused all traders in the markets and in the shops and shoppers.This arrangement has existed for a long time: from XI (in any case, at this time is the first mention of the elbow in the "Russian Truth" Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise) and up to the XVI century.Then he replaced the yard, which acted in the Russian Empire before the advent of modern units.

From the history of determining the amount of elbow

is often the key to understanding a bygone historical events are written sources, for centuries preserved the evidence of the event occurs.That data existing units can be obtained from books.

One of the first monuments of ancient literature was the "Walking abbot Daniel in the Holy Land", written at the beginning of the XII century.Its author, a former monk who led the march of pilgrims to Palestine and its follow-up amounted to a kind of report.This is in part the product of his contemporaries helped to answer the question: "Elbow - is how much?"

fact that "going ..." gives a detailed description of the main shrines of Jerusalem - the Holy Sepulcher, and including given its actual size.So, Daniel noted that the length and width of the monument relate to the four elbow to two.Later, in the middle of XVII century, another Russian priest - Patriarch Nikon - was made very unusual, but for someone, even audacious dream.On the banks of the river Istra under his leadership was built the majestic Resurrection New Jerusalem Monastery, virtually the same, but in a smaller size, known Palestinian buildings.It was arranged and a replica of the Holy Sepulcher, who had the same dimensions as in the Holy Land, but these builders in the yardstick and vershoks.It is these two facts are connected with the names of Daniel and Nikon subsequently allowed by comparing the available data and simple arithmetic calculations to figure out what is officially 1 cubit was equal to 46.6 cm. This figure is most common when the mention.

Iwanski elbow

There are other indications that this was a popular unit of length.

So, in the middle of the twentieth century, during the archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Nizhny Novgorod, were found quite interesting from a historical point of view related to the topic of things.One of them is a rod made, most likely from the hollow trunk of a juniper and well polished palms of the hands (this fact proves that he was constantly in the course).A sharp cut edges and gently pointed out that the thing is preserved in its original form.After the examination and determination of the age of this unusual "sticks", it was concluded that it could be a kind of standard measures and acted in the town of about XI-XII centuries.The length of the elbow (and largest stem found more consistent to him) was 54.7 cm.

few years earlier in the same area it was found pyatnadtsatisantimetrovy chip similar line related, most likely, to a later period - XIVcentury.Despite the damage to her even preserved Slavic inscription "svatogoivanos."

These findings suggest that such benchmarks could really exist, if not all, in the larger provincial centers.And played the role of the control measures of length in the sale.Thus, the authorities tried to protect the interests of traders and buyers.

that long: seven feet or elbow?

In 1017 a famous monk of Kiev Pechersk Lavra Nestor, went down in history as the first chronicler mentions another native Russian unit.It is seven feet held in the following scale after elbow place.Its length was again exemplary, and determined in several ways.The best known and most common - the distance between the tips of his fingers divorced in different directions hand (this centrifugal fathoms).Another alternative measure - from the top down and the level of the shoulder to the floor.Finally, the line diagonally from the toe of the left foot to the fingertips of his right hand, raised up (oblique seven feet).The word formed from the Old Russian verb "syagat" who had to "reach out a hand as possible."All this is, in fact, provides the answer to a question that long - seven feet or elbow.

More detailed information can be obtained, having become acquainted with the following facts.In Russia it was spread over ten different versions of the names of fathoms: small, oblique (or Kosovo), policemen, centrifugal, royal, Mason and others.Their magnitude varied from 1.34 meters to two and a half or more.In addition, the story of the stone with an inscription found in the Slavonic language.It is mentioned in Prince Gleb undertook to measure the distance in the district, and the results used to fix the most appropriate measure for this length - seven feet.Much later, surveyors, recording and studying the terrain relief, concluded that on average, it was about one and a half meters.These findings are consistent with the size of fathoms, architects have been mentioned in various sources related to construction.Also, it is often used to determine the distances are not very big.

Thus, the analysis of the data leads to the conclusion that a large measure of length - seven feet.The elbow was an order of magnitude shorter, and therefore more suitable for the measurement of small-sized objects in everyday life.

Arshin instead elbow

Starting from the XVI century, the measurement of the elbow is gradually disappearing.And it is possible to designate several reasons for this phenomenon.One of them is the fact that at the turn of XVI-XVII centuries was published "Trading Book", designed for merchants and other sellers.She introduced into use a new measuring unit - yards - and fixed its approximate size - 71 cm. We determined it by measuring the distance from the shoulder to the end of the middle finger arm.In contrast to the traditional Russian "elbow", the word was "a foreigner."It came to Russia from the East in the period of active development of trade relations between the two countries.The book was given a table of measures of length, in which it was stated the following relation of the old and the new units: two equals three feet of elbows.For a while they existed in parallel and varied field of use.Russian merchants still resorted to the elbow, as foreign - to the yardstick.Gradually the latter came to be used more often.The first began to lose its value, and this despite the fact that he has long been the basic unit of measurement in trade.

Another reason lies in the fact that not all the goods sold is conveniently wound on his elbow.The meters measure the same fabric was much more convenient.Moreover, despite all the steps in the provinces, the amount of elbow was significantly different among different merchants.This eventually led to growing discontent among the population.As a result, by the end of the XVII century primordially Russian unit - elbow - almost completely out of use.Arshin also stayed in Russia until the early twentieth century, when it was introduced a new, closer to the European system of measurement.

a role in the "struggle" and Russian "foreign" units played and standards - the so-called wooden ruler to put on them divisions.That they soon began to play a role yard.The next stage of the approval of his celebrated in Russia at a time when small inch and inch steel to correlate with the new unit.And to prevent cheating buyers (each a merchant initially measured out its product line - just remember the saying "judged by their own yardstick"), the state introduced the so-called "official yardstick", who had a special on the ends of metal rivets.Naturally, such a measurement of the length was more convenient than using the elbow.

Regarding the origin and meaning of the word "yard" that is not given a clear explanation.Some attributed his appearance with the Turkic "ar" ("earth"), the other - with the Persian "Arche" ("elbow").Moreover, proponents of the first option, it is concluded that the appearance of yards could be related to the size of a human step.

past the country's folklore

For nearly a hundred years in Russia there is a new system for measuring the length, but the evidence of the use of ancient pieces are often found in art and cultural works.In the latter case it is not only evidence of the historical development of the people and the country as a whole, but a kind of moral yardstick, which is produced for centuries.

example, the well-known proverb: "to nail himself and beard elbow" refers to a person with an inconspicuous appearance, but with significant authority in the community, earned through the mind, more life experience or just sustainable social status.The roots of this interpretation goes back to the pre-Petrine times.Then lush groomed beard was the pride of the nobles.That is why, having lost it on the orders of Peter the Great, the boyars felt humiliated and insulted.So the unit of length "elbow" began to be used in a figurative, namely estimates.

another example.Proverb: "In the wrong hands nail with the elbow," which perfectly describes the envious and greedy man.Or: "If you say to the nail, and retell to elbow" - about an evil rumor having properties quite quickly spread.

Elbow in other countries

A similar measure of length used not only in Russia.In many cultures it has been known since ancient times (and in some European countries operated until the beginning of the XIX century).As it is already possible to guess the value of the elbow in each country was different.As an example may be given following international table measures the length of this unit.


size in centimeters

Egypt (small)


Egypt (the king's)


Persia (pigon)


Persia (royal)








Far East


Like Russia, here, too,there elbow varieties: large, small, and even double (99-99,6 cm) - Sumerian king Gudea of ​​Lagash, which operated in 22 century BC.e.Typically, they measured out the cloth merchants or other similar items.

relic of the past or a convenient option line?

Nowadays obsolete word meaning "elbow" - a measure of the length of the course is no longer used, and the knowledge of its history is more evidence of the intellectual level of human development.However, in life there are often cases when an urgent need something to measure, and is not close to any line or the so-called centimeters.It was then, and can come to the aid distributed in the distant past man-made measurements.They will help to determine the fraction of a second the value of smaller items.It is enough to know, for example, what is the size of the distance between the outstretched index finger and thumb (this ancient Russian inch) or arms outstretched to the sides (centrifugal fathoms).

very simple to learn, and what is the elbow.The distance from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow - it is the measure of your individual length.