Mathematics

Complete Guide: Construction of Abacus and its Anatomy

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12 November 2020                

Read time: 6 minutes

Introduction

Do you want to know how an Abacus is constructed and what are various parts of it called?

Abacus is a very simple mechanic calculator. It’s been around since ancient times. It is a very helpful tool for merchants and auditors.

You can even build an Abacus at home on your own!

Just by moving the beads from left to right, you can add up to a billion or more.

Although we have technology that can calculate complex mathematical problems on go, Abacus trains the mind to calculate without any external technological tools, such as gadgets, mobile devices, or calculators.

A student or child would need to be properly positioned to operate Abacus with the deft fingers of both hands.

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Anatomy and Construction of Abacus

The standard abacus can be used to perform addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication; the abacus can also be used to extract square-roots and cubic roots. Download the PDF below to read the anatomy and construction of the Abacus.

📥  Anatomy and construction of Abacus

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The beads are manipulated with either the index finger or the thumb of one hand.

The abacus is typically constructed of various types of hardwoods and comes in varying sizes.

The abacus frame has a series of vertical rods on which several wooden beads are allowed to slide freely.

A horizontal beam separates the frame into two sections, known as the upper deck and the lower deck.

Abacus Parts : upper deck and lower deck

Abacus Parts:  The various parts of the abacus are identified here: the frame, the beam, the beads and rods, and the upper and lower decks.

Preparation & Bead Values

Preparation & Bead Values

Preparing The Abacus: In the above image, the abacus is prepared for use ("zeroed") by placing it flat on a table and pushing all the beads on both the upper and lower decks away from the beam by sliding the thumb along the shaft.

PREPARING THE ABACUS

Bead Values: In the above image, each bead in the upper deck has a value of 5; each bead in the lower deck has a value of 1.

Beads are considered counted when moved towards the Beam— the piece of the abacus frame that separates the two decks.

The standard abacus can be used to perform addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication; the abacus can also be used to extract square-roots and cubic roots.

The beads are manipulated with either the index finger or the thumb of one hand. The abacus is typically constructed of various types of hardwoods and comes in varying sizes.

The frame of the abacus has a series of vertical rods on which several wooden beads are allowed to slide freely. A horizontal beam separates the structure into two sections, known as the upper deck and the lower deck.

If you want to make an abacus on your own, you can check the video below.


Finger Technique for Abacus

A proper finger technique is paramount in achieving proficiency on the abacus.

With a Chinese abacus(image below), the thumb and the index finger together with the middle finger are used to manipulate the beads.

a chinese abacus

Beads in the lower deck are moved up with the thumb and down with the index finger. In certain calculations, the middle finger is used to move beads in the upper deck.

The Java version of the abacus is a limited simulation of the real device because the mouse completely obfuscates the fingering technique.

Abacus Apps on touch-screen tablets are better simulations. With a real abacus, constant practice is indispensable in achieving virtuosity in calculating speed.

Finger Technique for abacus

A Japanese textbook published in 1954 shows the proper technique for moving the beads.

It shows the thumb being used to count beads in the lower deck and the index finger is used in all other cases.

With the Japanese version, only the index finger and thumb are used. The beads are moved up with the thumb and down with the index finger.

However, certain complex operations require that the index finger move beads up, e.g. adding 3 to 8 (the adding of the three is called Jian Chi Jia Shi which literally means, "subtract 7 add 10").

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Summary

So, let’s recapitulate

  • The abacus instrument is durable
  • The abacus can be used to help young children learn numerical concepts.
  • It helps in developing the skills at correctly manipulating beads on the counting tool.
  • It builds an understanding of mathematical processes such as division, multiplication, subtraction, and addition. Mathematical skills lay a secure foundation for higher classes.

Abacus education improves the skills of

  • Visualization (photographic memory)
  • Concentration
  • Listening Skills
  • Memory
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Creativity
  • Self Confidence
  • Self-Reliance resulting in Whole Brain Development.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an Abacus?

An Abacus is a manual aid for calculating which consists of beads that can be moved up and down on a series of sticks or strings within a usually wooden frame. The Abacus itself doesn't calculate; it's merely a device for helping a human being calculate by remembering what has been counted.

Where was the Abacus invented?

The type of Abacus most commonly used today was invented in China around the 2nd century B.C. However, Abacus-like devices are first attested from ancient Mesopotamia around 2700 B.C.!

Where was Abacus first used?

The Abacus (plural abaci or abacuses), also called a counting frame, is a calculating tool used in the ancient Near East, Europe, China, and Russia, centuries before adopting the written Arabic numeral system. The exact origin of the Abacus is still unknown.

What are the advantages of learning how to use an Abacus?

The Benefits of Teaching Children Maths Using Abacus Maths

  • Boosts better and faster calculation skills.

  • Increases endurance for stress and pressure.

  • Improves problem-solving abilities.

  • Teaches clearer logical reasoning.

  • Sharpens concentration and observance.

  • Develops confidence and self-esteem.

  • Heightens stronger mental visualization skills.

  • Betters reading and writing.

  • Enhances photographic memory.

  • Sharpens listening skills.

  • It makes mathematics meaningful, useful, and fun.

  • It provides a solid learning foundation for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  • Increases memory power and sharpens overall mental formation.

Is it good for children to use an abacus?

Yes, an abacus is an excellent tool for teaching children basic math. The different senses involved in using an abacus, like sight and touch, can also reinforce the lessons.


External References


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