Chinese Abacus

China

Unknown

Unknown

This type of abacus was used by merchants and for local small businesses for their daily calculations, whether in a day at the market or travelling from city to city. The craftsmanship is exquisite down to the most minute detail, inlaying the yellow metals within the wood grain, along with the instructions of how to use bead arithmetic. The abacus is a simple, yet elegant tool for arithmetic used throughout Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, Europe, and Russia, with recorded uses as early as 2700 BC. This particular piece is a Chinese abacus, called a suanpan, literally translating to a calculating tray. The earliest prototypes for these trays date back to the Han Dynasty, with oval-shaped beads made from the dicot tree.

More artworks in the collection