VARA. The vara, a Spanish unit of distance, was used in the Spanish and Mexican surveys and land grants in Texas. One vara equals approximately thirty-three and one-third inches; 5,645.4 square varas equal one acre; 1,900.8 varas equal one mile; and 1,000,000 square varas, which is one labor, equal approximately 177.1 acres. The word vara entered the Spanish language from vulgate Latin and originally meant a long, thin, clean branch of any tree or plant. It later came to be used for any straight stick and then for a lance. Next it came to mean a badge of office carried by mayors and judges and such officials and probably achieved a more uniform dimension. As a judge's lance, the vara assumed a position of official importance in the eyes of the people, began to be used as a measuring stick, and eventually became a unit of measurement.
Juan Corominas, Diccionario Crítico Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1954).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, "VARA," accessed August 11, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/pfv02.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 11, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.