[Thai นืว] In Thailand, ? – 20th century¹, a unit of length, since standardization in 1923 = ²⁵⁄₁₂ (2.083…) centimeters (about 0.82 inches). Also romanized as niou, niew and nin.
The word also means “finger.” In concept, the niu is the length of 8 grains of unhulled rice placed side by side.²
Before metrication, when the wah was 80 inches, the niu was 5/6 inch (about 21.17 millimeters).³ Before that the niu was about 20.02 millimeters.⁴
1. United Nations, 1966.
2. G. B. McFarland.
Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1944.
3. Thus Browne (1879), Blockhuys and Guillaume.
4. Thus Doursther (1840) and Alexander (1850).
Peet met caoû pleüác, c'est à dire, huit grains de ris entier, dont la premiere envelope n'a pas esté brisée au moulin, valent un doit, en Siamois niou.
Peet met caoû pleüác, which is to say, eight whole grains of rice, the outer husk of which has not been removed in a mill, makes a "finger", in Thai niu.
[Simon] de La Loubere.
Du Royaume de Siam. Tome Second.
Amsterdam: Abraham Wolfgang, 1691.
[Laotian] In Laos, the niou louang, a unit of length with the same value as the Thai niu.
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Last revised: 4 September 2012.