Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

FAQs, Articles, Reviews, Persona Directory, Hall of Memory
Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time
Shorts, Novels, Poetry, Plays, Pulps
Articles, Contributors: Tangor Responds, Edgardemain, ERB: In Focus, Nkima Speaks, Beyond 30W, Tantor Trumpets, Dime Lectures, Korak in Pal-ul-don, Public Domain novels of ERB
Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don

"WE STILL LIVE!" ...John Carter
Copyright © 1982, 1996-2003 All Rights Reserved.



A Barsoom Glossary

This section examines the minutia found in complex human Barsoomian cultures. Measure, Time, Currency, Numbers, and Weights are listed below.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was very thorough in his creation of Barsoom, the inhabitants and creatures, and society and technology as well. For many Barsoom is the star character of the Martian Saga by Burroughs. An example of that detail, the rich texture of an imaginary world, is getting down to "nuts and bolts".

Weights and Measures, things an ordinary society needs to communiate, build, or do trade and commerce, is well documented in the series, either in context with the story or as footnotes.


— 11.17 earth inches. (On map 11.69 earth inches)
— martian inch
— 9.75 earth feet.
Various conversions between Barsoomian and earth measure can be found. 300 ads is described as approximately 3000 feet and 50 ads converts to 490 feet. (Synthetic)
- 1,949.05 earth feet (listed as 1,949.0592 feet, Fighting Man)
10 sofads
— 1 ad
200 ads
— 1 haad
100 haads
— 1 karad
1 karad
— 1 degree of latitude (36.914 earth miles)
360 karads
— circumference of Barsoom at the equator. Circumference of Mars, 13,289 miles
1 mile
— 2.709 haads
Speed of fast fliers
166.1 earth miles per hour, or 450 haads per hour; calculated from distance/time description in Thuvia and supported by Barsoom map reference (see Technological Developments, AIRSHIPS for more information)


— 1 second
— 1 minute
— 1 hour
4 tals
= 1 xat, or 200 tals to a zode
5 xats
= 15 earth minutes
50 xats
= three hours
= 2.5 earth hours
(listed as 2.462 earth hours, Fighting Man). ERB occasionally offered exact conversions between Barsoomian and earth measures, for example: Martian time 8:25 is 12:13 AM Earth time. (Synthetic)
25 xats past 8th zode
is midnight (Swords).
10 zodes
martian day
little over 24 1/2 earth hours (Princess 112)
martian year
684 earth days
Barsoomian Month
= They remain on this duty for one month, which is equivalent to about seventy days of Earth time; then they are relieved and return to Gathol city. LLANA


There appears to be little logic to the numbers listed in the books, though some aspects seem to hold together. Not included, though logically might be numbers (or multipliers/dividers), are "ha", "kar", "saf" and "sof" (see Linear Measures above).

ay — 1
bar — 8
dur — 1,000,000
ov — 7
tan — 100
tee — 10
teeay — 11
tor — 4


Hard coinage is oval shaped in bronze, silver and gold.

Paper currency — a form of check issued by the payee and redeemed twice a year. If the payee is unable to fulfil his obligation, the government pays the debt and requires the debtor to serve time on a farm or in the military until the debt is paid.

Precious gems and metals are commonly used as valuta, though expressed values is not described.

— 1 cent
— 10 cents
— 1 dollar


John Carter's observations of the Barsoomian methods of weight measurement have never been translated.

— Apparently a Barsoomian pound is similiar in relation to an Earthly pound, but due to Mars reduced gravity no other comparisons are known.
— without terrestrial referrent, many airships and construction techniques are described in terms of tons.