Some years ago in Manchester I was attending a English class for foreigners. While waiting for the teacher a Korean or Chinese girl was jotting down some symbols on her notebook. I asked what was she drawing. She answered me that she was just writing the numbers one to nine. She added that it was a popular and informal way for writing numbers in Asia.It was something similar to the west way: I II III but in asian style. The first number was just a stroke, and any new number was formed adding a new stroke. Anybody can show me this informal system? I looked for in the net without any success. 

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  • Thanks @droooze. Yes you are absolutely right. And if I remember well the girl was Korean not Chinese.
    – joan
    Dec 26, 2018 at 17:49
  • I think you may have misunderstood those answers over at Korean SE. The system that uses 正 as a tally marker is used all over China, Korea, and Japan - see both answers and the Wikipedia and Wiktionary links.
    – dROOOze
    Dec 26, 2018 at 17:51
  • So the correct answer here is that the 正-tally was used?
    – Mou某
    Dec 27, 2018 at 5:44
  • Yes, @user3306356. If I remember correctly what I saw was the 正-tally. I confirmed the Kevin answer.
    – joan
    Jan 2, 2019 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


In Chinese people often use the character 正 as tally marks (set of 5). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_marks


i suspected it's "花碼"


enter image description here

the unicode has these :)

1 - 〡 (u+3021)

2 - 〢 (u+3022)

3 - 〣 (u+3023)

4 - 〤 (u+3024)

5 - 〥 (u+3025)

6 - 〦 (u+3026)

7 - 〧 (u+3027)

8 - 〨 (u+3028)

9 - 〩 (u+3029)

for zero ( 0 ), just write anything like an "0" (u+0030) or "O" (u+004f), or "o" (u+006f)

these type of "number" is actively used in hong kong till recent decades.

some pages talked about it's usage:




when i was young, studying in primary school, i needed to learn 0-9 in english, roman numerals, chinese numerals (大寫), and 花碼, at the same time :(

  • Why would they teach 花码 to elementary school kids?
    – Mou某
    Dec 28, 2018 at 13:02
  • well, it was widely used :) in the market, or mini-bus. if a kid can't read the price correctly, he would be cheated :( Dec 28, 2018 at 13:18
  • The question said that any new number was formed by adding a new stroke, which unfortunately 花碼 doesn’t qualify :(
    – dROOOze
    Dec 28, 2018 at 17:07
  • that's why i said "suspected" :) Dec 28, 2018 at 17:24

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