Yesterday, I learned Yet Another Interesting Tidbit™ about the Chinese culture I've been living in for the past three months: they have hand signals for the numbers six through ten.

Of course, we've all got gestures for the first five numbers, which vary only slightly across the world: you hold up one finger for "one", two for "two", and so on. But we (in America, at least) don't have any gestures for other numbers!

(Actually, American Sign Language has gestures for six-through-ten: if I recall correctly, the thumb and pinky touch and all other fingers extend for "six"; likewise but the thumb and ring finger touch for "seven"; the thumb and middle finger touch for "eight"; the thumb and pointer touch for "nine"; "ten" is a thumbs-up.)

Okay, okay, it's about time I told you what the hand signals are for each number:

six: the Hawaiian one
Palm towards you, stick out your thumb and pinky. It's the hang loose sign! (Or the I love you sign, without the pointer finger. Or even, as drownzsurf notes, a hand telephone.)

seven: the Italian one
Palm facing up, touch the tips of all your fingers together. It's what suave Italian guys do after they've eaten something delicious.
Vorbis says a name for this gesture is mano a carciofo, "artichoke hand".
yclept notes that her father grew up with "seven" being like I've described, except with the pointer and thumb rubbing together (like the "moolah" gesture).

eight: the violent one
Palm facing towards you, extend your pointer finger and thumb in an L shape — like you're pretending your hand is a gun. Your hand should be at roughly the angle of the Nike swoosh (except backwards, if you're using your right hand).

nine: the Captain Hook one
Palm towards you, make a fist but raise your pointer finger slightly — like you've got a hook for a hand, but your hook is small. (Actually, it's identical to the letter X in ASL, but I like the Captain Hook idea better.)

ten: the easy one
Palm towards you, make a fist. Reminds me of the "say that again and I'll crack you one" gesture.
PopeHypocriteIII adds that another symbol for 10 is to cross the pointer and middle fingers, and yclept's dad crosses the pointers of both hands into a + (just like the character for shi).

Never having encountered anything like this in any of my travels, I asked the kids I'm teaching what the gestures were for. In a mixture of broken English and frenzied gestures with a friend, one student explained that the system was used somehow in bartering for animals. yclept's dad says it was also used by middlemen when selling things, who would use it to communicate prices without the other parties present knowing what the price was.