feddan

1

In Sudan globe icon, and Egypt, at least as early as the 14th – 20th century¹, a unit of land area. After 1830, approximately 4,200.833 square meters (about 1.038 acres). Also romanized as faddan, and called feddan masri. When Egypt adopted the metric system, the feddan was the only old unit that remained legal. Currently taken as 0.42 hectares.

In the Middle Ages the feddan was 400 square qasabas; Hinz estimates it at 6368 square meters.² By the 19th century the feddan had become 333¹⁄₃ square qasaba, about 5306.7 square meters. The present value appeared in 1830 when the qasaba of the cadastre shrank (to 355 centimeters from 399 cm).

Surveyors accompanying the French army in its invasion (1798 – 1801) found that the area of the feddan varied according to the fertility of the land, from 324 square qasabas near the Nile to 576 square qasabas distant from the Nile.³ They also identified a feddan of Damietta (the delta of the Nile) with an area of 432 square cannes, the canne being 3.99 meters (making the feddan 6877.5 square meters).

1. United Nations, 1966. Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 307.

2. Hinz, pages 63, 65.

3. Poids et mesures du Kaire (1804).

sources

Le faddan est une superficie agraire; il a subi des modifications comme la kasabah. Il contenait 400 kasabah carrées hakimites; il n'a actuellement que 333 kasabah carrées et 1/3 de kasabah reduite à 3m,55 de longeur, de sorte que 1,000 kasabah carrées font maintenaut 3 faddan.

Si l'on réduit la kasabah à 6 coudées baladi juste et que l'on considère le faddan comme ayant 344 kasabah carrées de superficie, les mesures agraires entreraient dans notre système métrique sans que la superficie du faddan actuel éprouvàt aucune modification.

The feddan is a unit of rural land; it has undergone the same modifications as the kasabah. It contains 400 square hashemite kasabahs; it is currently 333 1/3 square kasabahs, of the kasabah reduced to 3.55 meters in length, so that 1000 square kasabahs now make 3 faddans.

If one reduces the kasabah to exactly 6 diraa baladi and if one considers the feddan as being 344 square kasbahs in area, the agrarian units would enter our metric system without the area of the current feddan suffering any modification.

Mahmoud Bey. Le système métrique actual d'Égypte. Les Nilometres anciens et moderns et les antiques coudées d'Égypte.
Journal Asiatique. 7th series, vol 1, pages 67-110 (January 1873). Pages 86-87.
Available online at Gallica, the Bibliothèque Numérique of the Bibliothèque National de France.

2

In Palestine, according to anthropologist Nasser Abufarha, the feddan was a unit of land apportionment, not land area, in a system in which land was held communally. This system existed before the Ottomans and is still in use in slightly altered form, tractors having replaced animals.

sources

To understand the land ownership system in the society of the fellahin, one needs to understand the concept of the feddan. There is widespread misconception that the feddan is an area of measurement unit. This is an inaccurate understanding of the concept. The feddan is a measurement of a share of land that varies in size from village to village and may vary from year to year, even within the same village. Villages owned their land collectively by the village residents or by the Hamoula family. Physical features and traditional names of lands were used to describe the boundaries of a certain village land and were respected by neighboring villages. In the plowing and seeding season, lands were divided between village residents every fall based on ability to cultivate. Zalameh wa 'ammal (a man and a working animal) would get one feddan share. A man without 'ammal would get half a feddan. A man would get half a feddan for each additional working animal he owned that was available for work.

Nasser Abufarha.
Land Ownership in Palestine-Israel.
Online at www.1worldcommunication.org/landownership.htm Retrieved 15 February 2008.

3

In Syria (Aleppo) globe icon, 20th century, a unit of area, varying in value from 2,295 to 3,443 square meters.¹

In the late 19th century, French observers recorded three feddans in Damascus²:

1. United Nations, 1966.

2. Poids, Mesures, Monnaies et Cours du Change dans les Principales Localités de l'Empire Ottoman a la Fin du 19e Siècle.
Carnets du Bosphore VII.
Istanbul: Les Èditions Isis, 2002.

Page 54. This publication reprints material from the Chambre de Commerce Française de Constantinople: Bulletins no. 77, 78, 79, 80 and 81 (1892-1893) and their Compte Rendu des Travaux, Année 1892. In the Bibliothèque nationale de France's copy of the latter the issues for 1891 and 1892 are bound together (Constantinople:impr. de A. Zellich fils, 1892-1894).

4

In Aseer globe icon, a region in Saudi Arabia, ? – early 20th century, a unit of land area, about @ square meters.

     

feddan

   

zahab

2

 

rakib

4

8

felleja

2

8

16

 

 

 

 

Arab Bureau, Cairo.
Handbook of Asir.
Cairo: Government Press, 1916.

5

In Yemen, a unit of land area, = 4050 square meters. Also called a dhumd.

Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 350.

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X A map showing the location of Sudan.

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X A map showing the location of Syria.

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