Tip to toe

Parts of the body have long been used to define small distances, the foot in the imperial system of measuring, for example. The Zarma people of Western Africa find the arm much more useful: Kambe kar is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and gande is the distance between two outstretched arms.

Elsewhere we find:


Dos (Hmong,China) from the thumb tip to the middle-finger tip

Muku (Hawaiian) from the fingers of one hand to the elbow of the opposite arm when it is extended

Sejengkal (Malay) the span between the tips of the stretched thumb and little finger

Dangkal (Kapampangan,Philippines) between thumb and forefinger

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