2

Looking at Yang Hui's triangle we can see notations like:

enter image description here

and

enter image description here

These are known as: counting rods.

Were/are these ever treated at actual characters?

The two pictures above should stand for six and seven, respectively. It is not hard to imagine that they were once some form of 字.

Ideas?

1

Probably not. You'll find the following sentence on this wiki page 算籌

1973年9月,湖北省江陵縣鳳凰山出土的十號漢代古木木牘,其中有一片記有「當利二月定筭」,這是文獻中最早出現以籌碼代替文字記數例子之一

I take it that 算籌 is not regarded as 文字。

1

So it is a way of taking down numbers.

For example Roman Numbers uses X and I and V but we do not take them as words.

The rods are the same, they are just a way of counting , the ancient chinese uses ropes and knots the take numbers , they have the same meaning.

I personally do not take the rods as characters.

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