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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an old Russian measure of length, first attested in Russian sources of the early 11th century.

From the 11th to the 17th century, what was known as the priamaia (straight) sazhen’ was equal to 152 or 176 centimeters. The priamaia sazhen’ was the distance from the fingertips of one hand to the fingertips of the other hand of a man’s extended arms. The kosaia (transverse) sazhen’, which was equal to 216 or 248 centimeters, was the distance from the tips of the toes of a foot to the fingertips of the opposite hand stretched upward. A ukase of 1835 defined the sazhen’ as equal to 7 English feet, or 84 inches. The sazhen’ thus was equal to 3 arshins, 48 vershki, or 213.36 centimeters. Derived from the sazhen’ were the square sazhen’, which equaled 9 square arshins, and the cubic sazhen’, which equaled 27 cubic arshins.

After the October Revolution of 1917 and the introduction of the metric system in the RSFSR in 1918, the sazhen’ went out of use.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.