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"Living with the Gods" - Neil MacGregor
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Littlestone
Littlestone
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Re: "Living with the Gods" - Neil MacGregor
Nov 23, 2017, 21:50
david gregg wrote:
Myself, I suspect that some metrics were related simply because several cultures used scaled down geodetic measures...but that is a long and disputed story.
Prof. Dave Gregg


Might be geodetic measurements, David, but would you not also consider that many (or a least some) units of measurement relate to the proportions of the human form? The 3x6 shaku (foot) tatami mats that I mentioned earlier cater for a sleeping human, which then gave rise to practically everything else associated with Japanese architecture.

For me the interesting thing is how the shaku/foot are actually expressed materially (quite literally yardsticks). It’s one thing to say a shaku/foot is the right length for us to relate to but how do you scale that up, or carry it across borders. Just an idea, but I’ve noticed that the two shaku and three shaku bamboo rules still used in Japan show the nodes (from which the bamboo branches grow) of the bamboo occurring at roughly one shaku/foot from each other. It’s not exact of course but it’s a fairly acceptable standard, and one that traders in ancient times (I’m thinking traders along the Silk Route and beyond) might have been happy to accept.

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