depa [Malay]


In Malaysia, ? – present, a unit of length, = 2 yards (about 1.8288 meters).

United Nations, 1966.


děpa. I. A measure of length; the span of a man's body and out-stretched arms measuring from fingertips to fingertips; the Malay fathom; Ht. Abd. 28, 56. Cf. děpang.

R. J. Wilkinson.
A Malay-English Dictionary. Part I. (ALIF to ZA.)
Singapore: Kelly & Walsh, Ltd., 1901.
Page 296. The author explains “Ht. Abd.” as: “Hikâyat Abdu'llah, Straits Government Edition, 1888-1889. Better editions have been published by the Straits Asiatic Society and in Holland (Ed. Klinkert).” “Děpang” is a verb meaning “to stretch out the arms at right angles to the body.”


Děpa, A fathom; a measurement from the tips of the fingers of the right hand, to the finger tips of the left hand, the arms being held outstretched at right angles to the body. Note: By Europeans this measurement is usually taken as being equivalent to one fathom of six English feet. The following are the tables to which this measurement belongs.

2 Jěngkal (spans) = 1 Hasta
2 Hasta (cubits) = 1 Êla
2 Êla (yards) = 1 Děpa.

Land Measure
12 Inchi = 1 Kâki.
6 Kâki (feet) = 1 Děpa.
4 Děpa (square fathoms) = 1 Jěmba.
100 Jěmba (14,400 sq. feet) = 1 Pěn-juru.
4 Pěn-juru = 1 Orlong or Rělong.

Tîga děpa lâgi bělum sampei Râja Dônan pun me-lômpat naik ka-kâpal itu,

While they were still three fathoms distant from her Raja Donan leaped on board the vessel.

Bâtu sauh itu brat tîga bhâra dan rantei - nya panjang lîma děpa,

The anchor weighed three bhara and the chain thereof was five fathoms long.

Tengah tîga děpa,

Two fathoms and a half long, i.e., fifteen feet.

Děpa âku ta' sampei anam kâki,

The measurement from the extremities of my outstretched arms does not equal six feet.

Hugh Clifford and Frank Athelstane Swettenham.
A Dictionary of the Malay Language. Malay-English.
Taiping, Perak: for the authors by the Government Printing Office, 1894.


Prince of Wales Island [i.e., Penang Island]

Long Measure

The Hasta or Cubit, which is divided into halves and quarters, equals 18 English Inches, and is used by The Malays and many other natives in measuring cloths. But the Chinese shopkeepers in the Bazar make use of the English Yard.

Land Measure

4 Hasta = 1 Depa = 2 English Yards
2 Depas = 1 Jumba = 4 English Yards
20 Jumbas = 1 Orlong = 80 English Yards.

Hence the Orlong or 80 Square Yards = 1 Acre 1 Rood 12 Perches, English..

Patrick Kelly (1835), page 354 of the Supplement to the Second Edition. Kelly says of the entry on page 114 of the Universal Cambist: “the description of Weights and Measures in that article is not sufficiently ample, nor is it entirely correct. The following statements are therefore extracted from a very copious Dispatch on the subject, lately transmitted to the Court of Directors with the Standard Weights and Measures.”

Source 2 says that 4 depa = 1 jemba, and source 3 says that 2 depas = 1 jumba. It is clear from Clifford and Swettenham's next line that they are talking about 4 squares each 1 depa on a side, making a jemba of 144 square feet. Kelly, in contrast, introduces the jemba as a linear measure 12 feet long, followed by the orlong as a linear measure 240 feet long. A square 1 orlong on a side is not, however, 80 square yards, but 80 yards square. See the sources in the entry for orlong.


In Malaysia, ? – present, the square depa, a unit of area, = 4 square yards (about 3.34 square meters).

United Nations, 1966.


In Malacca, a unit of length, about 0.94 meter. chart symbol


In the Dutch East Indies, = 4 hasta, about 1.70 meter.

Encyclopaedie van Nederlansch-Indië. 2nd edition.
S. de Graaff and D. G. Stibbe, editors.
's-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1918.

Volume 2. Page 687.

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