guz

See also gaz, and the Turkomen definition under arshin.

An old Islamic unit of length, varying by time and location. Sometimes spelled guj.

1

गज् In Nepal, 20th century, a unit of length used for textiles, = 1 yard. Romanized as guj, obviously a loanword from guz.

Ralph Lilley Turner.
A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language.
London: Routledge, 1961.
Page 132.

United Nations, 1966.

2

In India, a unit of length that varies with locality. Also called gudge.

Bengal 36 inches
Mumbai (Bombay) 27 inches
Chennai (Madras) 33 inches
Government Survey guz 33 inches

sources

1

CLOTH MEASURE

24 inches, — — — 1 Guz.

The Bombay almanack.
Bombay: printed by John Turner, at the Gazette Press, [1798].

2

In most of the provinces under this presidency, the Guz is divided into 20 tussoo. In Guzerat it measures 27.5 inches, making the cubit of 14 tussoo, equal to 19.25 inches. At Bombay and in Malabar it is 28 inches, and the cubit 19.6 inches. In the Deccan, the Dooab, the Southern Konkan, and Surat, and also in Cutch, the Guz is divided into 24 tussoo, but of a greater variety of length, and the cubit into 14 tussoo. The Peishwa's Guz, which is in use in the public departments at Poonah, is 33.86 inches. At seven of the principal towns in the Dooab, the Guz varies from 31.75 inches to 34.75 inches, and broad cloth, velvet, chintz, and other articles of European manufacture are measured by it. An average accurately taken at 12 of the chief towns in the Southern Konkan, makes the Guz 33.438 inches, and the cubit 1.508 [sic] inches.

In Surat the Guz used by tailors is 27.8, and by artificers 24 inches. In Cutch the Guz is divided into 24 tussoo, and measures 26.5 inches. The length of the cubit, however, almost everywhere, is usually determined by the mean length of five different men's arms measured from the elbow to the end of the middle finger: turbans, &c. are sold by this measure, but it is seldom met with outside of Surat, as a measure, unless with tailors: purchasers usually by their own arm's length.

Robert Montgomery Martin.
History of the Colonies of the British Empire in the West Indies, South America, North America, Asia...
London: W. H. Allen & Co. and George Routledge, 1843.
Page 144 of Appendix 4.

3

Extra collections over and above the land tax if taken by revenue officers are Wajúhát; otherwise they are termed Furúa'át.

In every country such demands are troublesome and vexatious to the people. His Majesty in his wise statemanship and benevolence of rule carefully examined the subject and abolished all arbitrary taxation, disapproving that these oppressions should become established by custom. He first defined the gaz, the tenáb, and the bíghah and laid down their bases of measurement: after which he classed the lands according to their relative values in production and fixed the revenue accordingly.

áÍN VIII.

The Iláhi Gaz.

Is a measure of length and a standard gauge. High and low refer to it, and it is the desire of the righteous and the unrighteous. Throughout Hindustan there were three such measures current, viz., long, middling and short. Each was divided into 24 equal parts and each part called Ṭassúj.

A Ṭassúj of the 1st kind was equal to 8 ordinary barley-corns placed together breadthways, and of the other two respectively, to 7 and 6 barleycorns. The long gaz was used for the measurement of cultivated lands, roads, distances, forts, reservoirs and mud walls. The middling was employed to measure buildings of stone and wood, bamboo-built houses, places of worship, wells and gardens, and the short gaz for cloth, arms, beds, seats of state, sedan chairs, palanquins, chairs, carts and the like.

In some other countries, although they reckon the gaz as consisting of 24 Ṭassúj, they make

1 Ṭassúj equal to 2 Habbah (grain).
1 Habbah " 2 Barley-corns.
1 Barley-corn " 6 Mustard seeds.
1 Mustard seed " 12 Fals.
1 Fals '' 6 Fatíla.
1 Fatíla " 6 Naḳír.
1 Naḳír " 8 Ḳitmir.
1 Ḳitmír '' 12 Zarrah.
1 Zarrah " 8 Habá.
1 Habá " 2 Wahmah.

Some make 4 Ṭassúj equal to 1 Dang.

                    6 Dang = 1 Gu.

Others reckon the gaz as 24 fingers, each finger equal to the breadth of 6 barley-corns, and each barley-corn equal in thickness to 6 hairs from the mane of a cob. In some ancient books they make the gaz equal to two spans and twice round the joint (girih) of the thumb, and they divided it into 16 girih and each girih was subdivided into 4 parts which they called 4 pahr, so that a pahr was the sixty-fourth part of a gaz.

In other ancient records the gaz is reckoned of seven kinds.

1st, The Gaz i Sauda (Gaz of traffic) consisting of 24 digits and two-thirds of a digit. Harún úr Rashíd of the House of 'Abbás took this measure from the hand of an Abyssinian slave who was one of his attendants: the Nilometer of Egypt is on this measure, and houses and cloths are also measured by it.

2nd, Ziráa' kasbah, (Reed-yard) called also A'ámah, and Daur, of 24 digits: this was introduced by Ibn Abi Laila.

3rd, The Yúsufíyah, used by the provincial governors of Baghdad for the measurement of houses: it consisted of 25 digits.

4th, The short Háshimíyah, of 28 digits and a third. Bilál the son of Abi Bardah introduced it: according to some it was Abu Músa Ash'ari his grandfather.

5th, The long Háshimíyah of 29 digits and two-thirds which Manṣúr the A'bbaside favoured. It is also called the Maliḳ and Ziyádíyah. Ziyád was the so-called son of Abú Sufiyán who used it to measure the lands in Arabian I'ráḳ.

6th, The Omaríyah of 31 digits. During his Caliphate, Omar carefully considered the long, short and middling gaz. He took the three kinds together and to one-third of the aggregate he added the height of the closed fist and the thumb erect. He closed both ends of the measure with tin and sent it to Ḥudaifah and Otḥmán-b-Hunaif which they used for the measurement of the villages in Arabian Iráḳ.

7th, The Mámuníyah of 70 digits less a third. Mamún brought it into use, and it was employed for measuring rivers, plains and road distances.

Some in former times reckoned the cloth-measure (gaz) to be seven times the fist, and the fist was equal to four fingers closed; according to others, one finger less. The survey gaz, according to some, was the same seven fists: others made it seven fists together with one finger (thumb?) erect added to the seventh fist. Others again added another finger to that fist; while some made it seven fists with one finger adjoined to each fist.

Sultan Sikander Lodi in Hindustán introduced another gaz of the breadth of 41 Iskandaris and a half. This was a copper coin mixed with silver. Humayún added a half and it was thus completed to 42. Its length was 32 digits. But some authors anterior to his time make mention of a similar measure. Sher Khán and Salím Khán, under whom Hindustán was released from the custom of dividing the grain and its apportionment, in measuring land used this gaz. Till the thirty first-year of the Divine Era, although the Akbar Sháhi gaz of 46 fingers was used as a cloth-measure, the Iskandari gaz was used for cultivated lands and buildings. His Majesty in his wisdom, seeing that the variety of measures was a source of inconvenience to his subjects, and regarding it as subservient only to the dishonest, abolished them all and brought a medium gaz of 41 digits into general use. He named it the Iláhi gaz and it is employed by the public for all purposes.

Abul Fazl Allámi.
H.S. Jarrett, translator.
Ain I Akbari. Vol II.
Calcutta: Printed at the Baptist Mission Press, 1891.

A translation of this passage published in 1800, useful mainly for the earlier English romanizations of the Persian and Arabic terms, is provided here.

4

The Ilahy guj of Akber was intended to supercede the multiplicity of measures in use in the 16th century, and in a great degree it still maintains its position as the standard of the Upper Provinces. In general, however, different measures are employed in each trade, and the cloth merchant in particular has a distinct guj of his own. Thus the cloth guj has assimilated in many places to two haths, or one yard; and the frequent employment of English tape-measures, as well as carpenter's two-feet rules, will ere long confirm the adoption of the British standard to the exclusion of the native system, for the linear measures in the bazar.

The true length of the Ilhay guz became a subject of zealous investigation by Mr. Newnham, Collector of Furukhabad, and Major Hodgson, Surveyor General, in the year 1824, during the progress of the great revenue survey of the western provinces, when it was found to be the basis of all the records of land measurements and rents of Upper India.—As might have been expected no data could be found for fixing the standard of Akber with perfect accuracy; but every comparison concurred in placing it between the limits of 30 and 35 English inches; and the great majority of actual measures of land in Rohilkhund, Delhi, Agra, &c. brought it nearly to an average of 33 inches. Mr. Duncan, in the settlement of the Benares province in 1795, had assumed 33.6 inches to the ilahy guz, on the authority, it may be presumed, of standards in the city, making the beega = 3136 sq. yards.

The results of the different modes of determination resorted to in 1824-5, so characteristic of three rude but ingenious contrivances of the natives, are curious and worthy of being recorded. Major Hodgson made the length of the ilahy guz

From the average measurement of 76 men's finger-breadths = 31.55 in.
From the average size of the marble slabs in the pavement of the Taj at Agra, (said to be each a Shahjehany guz of 42 fingers) = 33.58
From the side of the reservoir at the same place, called 24 guz = 32.54
From the circuit of the whole terrace, 532 guz? = 35.80
Mr. Newnham, from the average size of 14 char-yaree rupees, supposed to be each one finger's-breadth, makes it = 19.20
From the testimony of inhabitants of Furukhabad = 31.50
From statement in the Ayeen Akbery, of the weight of the cubic guz of 72 kinds of timber, (this would require a knowledge of the weights)
Mr. Halhed, from average diameter of 246 barley corns = 31.84
From ½ sum of diameters of 40 Munsooree pice = 32.02
From ½ of 4 human cubits measured on a string = 33.70
From average of copper wires returned by Tehseeldars of Moradabad as counterparts of actual measures from which their beegas were formed = 33.50
Mr. Duncan, as above noticed, assumed the ilahy guz at Benares = 33.60
In Barelly, Boolunshuhr, Agra, as in the following table, it is = 32.5

It is natural to suppose that the guz adopted for measuring the land should vary on the side of excess, and probably all of the above, thus derived, are too long. The Western Revenue Board, thinking so many discrepancies irreconcileable, suggested, that the settlements should every where be made in the local beega, the surveyors merely noting the actual value of the iláhy guz in each village, and entering the measurement also in acres; but the Government wisely determined rather to select a general standard, which should meet as far as possible the existing circumstances of the country. Thus the further prosecution of the theorethetical question was abandoned, and an arbitrary value of the ilahy guz was assumed at 33 inches, which was in 1825-6 ordered to be introduced in all the revenue-survey records, with a note of the local variation therefrom on the village maps, as well as a memorandum of the measure in English acres. Mr. Sec. Mackenzie thus describes the convenience which the adoption of this standard (sanctioned at first only as an experiment and liable to reconsideration) would afford in comparisons with English measures.

“Taking the jureeb (side of the square beega) at 60 guntehs, or 60 guz, the beega will be 3600 square guz, or 3025 square yards, or five-eighths of an English acre (3 roods, 5 perches). The jureeb will be equal to 5 chains of 11 yards, each chain being 4 guntehs. In those places where the jureeb is assumed at 54 guz square, it would equal 4½ chains, giving 2350¼ square yards (or 2 roods, 10 perches). In either case the conversion from one to the other would be simple, and the connection between the operations of the surveyors and the measurements of the revenue officers would be readily perceived.”

This convenient beega of 3600 square ilahy guz, or 3025 square yards, or five-eighths of an acre, may be now called the standard of the Upper Provinces. It is established also at Patna, and has been introduced in the settlements of the Sâgur and Nerbudda territories.

[James Prinsep.]
Useful Tables, forming an Appendix to the Journal of the Asiatic Society. Part the First. Coins, Weights and Measures of British India.
Calcutta: Printed at the Baptist Mission Press, 1834.
Pages 88-90.

5

Gaz, Guz, vernacularly, Gaj, or Guj, H[indi]. (P[ersian]. ) A measure of length, a yard. In the reign of Akbar there prevailed a great number of measures of this denomination, varying in length from 18 to 58 inches; to correct which disorder, they were all abrogated, and a standard gaz established in their stead, termed the Iláhi-gaz. The actual value of this measure was made the subject of many inquiries and experiments upon the institution of the great revenue survey of the western provinces, when it was found to be the basis of all the records of land measurements in that part of India : as no standard had been preserved, a fixed object of comparison could not be procured, and the different reports and measurements made it vary from 29 to 35 inches, and as the majority of actual measures of land made it 33 inches, that was assumed as the fixed standard value, and it constitutes the basis of the survey measurements. In trade, a greater latitude prevails, and the cloth merchant, in particular, has a gaz of his own, equal to two háts, or cubits, or an English yard.

In Guzerat the gaz is 27¼ inches.

Reshmi-gaz, (?) Mar[athi]. A measure under the former government = 18 or 19 tasus.

H. H. Wilson, 1855, pages 171 and 577.

Iláhí-gaz, H. () The standard gaz, or yard, of 41 fingers, instituted by Akbar ; authoritatively fixed by the British government at 33 inches: see Gaz.

H. H. Wilson, 1855, page 216.

3

In Persia, a unit of length, also called zer and gueza, varying from 24 to 44 inches. See gaz for later developments in Iran.

common 104.0 centimeters (40.95 inches)
Government standard = 36.5 inches (92.71 cm)
Retail trade 25 inches

4

In Arabia, a unit of length, varying from 25 to 37 inches.

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