Obsolete Russian unit of measurement

For the Indian spinning wheel known as a charkha, see spinning wheel.

A native system of weights and measures was used in Imperial Russia and after the Russian Revolution, but it was abandoned in 1924 when the Soviet Union adopted the metric system.

The Tatar system is very similar to the Russian one, but some names are different.

The system existed since ancient Rus', but under Peter the Great, the Russian units were redefined relative to the English system. Until Peter the Great the system also used Cyrillic numerals, and only in the 18th century Peter the Great replaced it with the Hindu-Arabic numeral system.

Length

The basic unit is the Russian cubit, called arshin, which has been in use since the 16th century. It was standardized by Peter the Great in the 18th century to measure exactly twenty-eight English inches (71.12 cm). Thus, 80 vershoks = 20 piads = 5 arshins = 140 English inches.[1]

A piad (пядь, “palm”, “five”) or chetvert (че́тверть, “quarter”) is a hand span, the distance between ends of the spread thumb and index finger.

Unit Russian Translation Ratio Metric
Value
English units
tochka то́чка point 1/2800 0.254 mm 1/100 inch
liniya ли́ния line 1/280 2.54 mm 1/10 inch; cf. line
diuym дюйм inch 1/28 2.54 cm 1 inch
vershok вершо́к “tip” or “top” 1/16 4.445 cm 1 ¾ in; cf. 19" rack unit
piad, chetvert пядь, че́тверть “palm”, quarter 1/4 17.78 cm 7 in; cf. span
fut фут foot 3/7 30.48 cm 1 ft
arshin арши́н yard 1 71.12 cm 2 ⅓ ft
sazhen са́жень fathom 3 2.1336 m 7 ft
versta верста́ turn (of a plough) 1500 1.0668 km 3,500 ft
milia ми́ля mile 10,500 7.4676 km 24,500 ft

Alternative units:

  • Swung sazhen (маховая сажень, makhovaya sazhen’, distance between tips of arms stretched sidewards) = 1.76 m
  • Skewed, or oblique sazhen (косая сажень, kosaya sazhen’, distance between tip of a raised arm and a tip of an opposite leg slightly put away) = 2.48 m
  • Double versta or border versta, (межевая верста, mezhevaya versta), used to measure land plots and distances between settlements = 2 verstas (comes from an older standard for versta)

Area

  • Desiatina (десяти́на, “a tenth” or “ten”)
    • Treasury/official desiatina (казённая десяти́на, kazionnaya desiatina) = 10,925.4 m² = 117,600 sq ft = 2,400 square sazhen
    • Proprietor's (владе́льческая десяти́на, vladelcheskaya desiatina) = 14,567.2 m² = 156,800 sq ft = 3,200 square sazhen
      • 3 proprietor's desiatinas = 4 official desiatinas

Volume

As in many ancient systems of measurement the Russian distinguishes between dry and liquid measurements of capacity. Note that the chetvert appears in both lists with vastly differing values.

Dry measures

Unit Russian Translation Ratio Cubic
inches
(exact)
Metric
value
Imperial
value
US
Customary
chast часть part 1/30 20/3 109.33 ml 0.219 pt 0.263 pt
kruzhka кру́жка mug 2/5 80 1.312 L 2.309 pt 2.773 pt
garnets[1] га́рнец pot 1 200 3.279842 L 2.886 qt 3.466 qt
vedro ведро́ bucket 4 800 13.12 L 2.886 gal. 3.466 gal.
chetverik четвери́к quarter 8 1600 26.239 L 2.886 p. 2.978 p.
osmina осьми́на one-eighth 32 6400 104.955 L 2.886 bsh. 2.978 bsh.
chetvert че́тверть quarter 64 1280 209.91 L 5.772 bsh. 5.957 bsh.

Liquid measures

Unit Russian Translation Ratio Cubic
inches
(exact)
Metric
value
Imperial US
Customary
shkalik шка́лик measure 1/200 61.5 mL 2.16 fl. oz. 2.08 fl. oz.
kosushka косу́шка shot
charka ча́рка wine glass 1/100 123 mL 4.33 fl. oz. 4.16 fl. oz.
butylka (vodochnaya) буты́лка (во́дочная) bottle (vodka) 1/20 37½ 615 mL 1.08 pt 1.3 pt
butylka (vinnaya) буты́лка (ви́нная) bottle (wine) 1/16 46⅞ 768.7 mL 1.35 pt 1.625 pt
kruzhka кру́жка mug 1/10 75 1.23 L 1.08 qt 1.3 qt
shtof штоф flagon
chetvert че́тверть quarter 1/8 93 ¾ 1.537 L 1.35 qt 1.624 qt
vedro[1] ведро́ bucket 1 750 12.29941 L 2.71 gal. 3.249 gal.
bochka бо́чка barrel 40 30,000 491.98 L 108.22 gal. 129.967 gal.

Weight/mass

Two systems of weight were in use, an ordinary one in common use, and an apothecaries' system.

Ordinary system

Unit Russian Translation Ratio Metric value Avoirdupois value
dolia до́ля part 1/9216 = 1/962 44.435 mg 0.686 gr
zolotnik золотни́к “golden one” 1/96 4.26580 g 65.831 gr (0.152 oz)
lot лот 1/32 12.7974 g 0.451 oz
funt[1] фунт pound 1 409.51718 g 14.445 oz (0.903 lb)
pood пуд 40 16.3807 kg 36.121 lb
berkovets берковец 400 163.807 kg 361.206 lb (25.8 st)

The pood was used in Russia, Finland, Belarus and Ukraine. Pood was first mentioned in a number of documents of the twelfth century. It may still be encountered in documents dealing with agricultural production (especially with reference to cereals), and has been revived in determining weights when casting bells in belfries following the rebirth of the Orthodox Churches in the former Soviet lands.

Apothecaries' system

The Imperial Russian apothecaries' was defined by setting the grain Russian: гран to be exactly seven-fifths of a dolia. The only unit name shared between the two was the funt, but the one in the apothecaries' system is exactly seven-eighths of the ordinary funt. This makes the Russian apothecary units just slightly more than 96% of those in the English apothecaries' system.

Unit Russian Translation Ratio Metric value Avoirdupois value Ordinary value
gran гран grain 1 62.210 mg 0.96004 gr. 1.4 dolia
scrupel скрупул scruple 20 1.2442 g 19.201 gr. 28 doila
drachma драхма dram 60 3.7326 g 57.602 gr. ⅞ zolotnik
uncia унция ounce 480 29.861 g 1.0533 oz. or 460.82 gr. 7 zolotnik
funt фунт pound 5760 358.328 g 12.640 oz. or 5529.8 gr. 84 zolotnik

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.