Monday, January 11, 2016

Indigenous ways of measurement

Indigenous ways of measurement
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog []

Paaralng Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Mely C Tenorio, 738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday (Phase II 2006 to present)

Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, which is also a puzzle - how many positions of the human figure can you decipher?

There is nothing new in old folks' measurement. The length of the outstretched arms, fingertip to fingertip, is equivalent to the height of the person, according to the classical drawing Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. Is this true? What don’t you try it on yourself?

Here are some practical means of measurement by old folks, can you add to this list?.

  • The least shadow you make while standing, the closer it is to noontime. Old folks estimate other hours of the day by the angle of the sun and their shadows.
  • A child is ready for school if he can touch his opposite ear without tilting his head.
  • Dipa’ – the length covered from fingertip to fingertip with both arms fully stretched.
  • Dangkal – distance from tip of thumb to tip of forefinger, or middle finger.
  • Guhit – when measuring the amount of water in cooking rice we use the finger – one or two guhit. When cooking rice, the amount of water is measured by the "nodes" of the middle finger, according to the kind of rice, amount and texture.
  • Talampakan – distance from heel to toe, equivalent to one “foot.”
  • Tingi – in retail selling this is a parcel without any standard reference.
  • Hanggang tuhod, bewang, liig, lampas tao, etc (up to the knee, waistline, neck, taller than man)
  • Reference to depth of water is the length of a bamboo pole, height of a person, dipa (arm's length)
  • Carpenters still make shortcut measurements - dangkal (dangan Ilk), dipa'.
  • Fishermen look at the sky for reference of time. The North star and phases of the moon tell them when to set out to sea and come back to shore.
  • Acacia leaves start to fold with the setting of the sun. It is an old folks' reference to start going home before it gets dark.
  • Arrival of rainy season comes with the singing of cicada and emergence of salagubang andsalaguinto, also the swarming of termites and ants.
  • Migrating birds from the north tell of the coming amihan season, accompanied by gusts of cold wind from Siberia.
  • Distance is measured by the number of steps. It is important to know ones pace factor(equivalence in meter) to use this technique reliably.
  • A midwife can tell when a baby is due to be born (dalawang daliri - two fingers).
  • A stone's throw refers to a distance in the neighborhood; kabilang ilog means distance across a particular river.
  • Reference to objects is quite popular, such as kasinlaki ng butil na bigas o mais (like the size of rice or corn grain), kasinlaki ng cuarto na ito (as big as this room).
  • There is no assurance of accuracy in most of these means of measurement. Take for instance when one says “isang sigarilyo lang ang layo” (it takes a stick of cigarette to reach the place), and the guide has yet to light his cigarette and you have gone a long way. Or somebody says, “It is only at the other side of the mountain.” Which mountain and how many are there? ~

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