Measuring Rods

Tamil inscriptions mention measuring rods or pole (Kol in Tamil), whenever the land is gifted, along with taxes or tax exemption. These rods were generally based on either human span ( san ) or foot ( ai ). A rod was named according to the number of spans or feet it comprised, eg. 16- san kol, 12 adi kol. Besides these span and foot rods we get from inscriptions, the names of many other rods whose lengths are however not given.

These rods are named after villages, temples, rulers etc. such as Cirriyarrur kol, Rajarajan kol, Rajavibhaan kol, Kandar Kandan kol, Ivvur alantha kol, Malikaik kol etc. As these rods varied from place to place to standardize the length of the local rod they were engraved on the temple stone walls with even interval marks to denote half, quarter, one eighth etc.A square rod, i.e. an area, measuring one rod in length and one rod in breadth was called asKuzhi .

Land measuring rod Kandar kandan kol Varadharajaperumal Temple 14th Century C.E

Temple mason's scale Taccamuzham Varadharajaperumal Temple 16th Century CE

Specimen of Cloth Measuring Rod , 13th Century CE Tirumalavadi, Perambalur Dt.

Another linear measure, muzham equivalent to a cubit (a measure from elbow to the tip of middle finger) was exclusively used to measure structures and cloth. Mason’s scales known as taccamuzham are also engraved on the temple walls.