tael

In Asia, a unit of mass variously defined. In the 20th century1:

1. United Nations, 1966.

2

Another name for the Chinese liang.

3

In Hong Kong, 20th – 21st centuries, the tael troy, a unit of mass used for gold, = 37.429 grams. 1 tael troy = 10 mace troy = 100 candareen troy. 

4

On the island of Sumatra, two distinct units of mass, varying by locality.

Doursther (1840) lists the following magnitudes:

Locale Names, equivalents English grains (troy) grams
Achem The tale = 1/5th buncall = 2 4/5 pagodes = 3 1/5 mayons or miams = 16 maces or mas = 64 copangs or coupangs 148.2 9.60
Bencoolen or Bencoulen. The tael or tale for gold and silver = 1½ ringit = 12 kepings = 16 maces or mas = 100 condorines = 360 coondees 638 41.34
Jamby The tale or tail = 16 mas 614 39.78
Marlborough (Fort-) The tael for gold and silver = 1½ ringit = 12 keping = 360 coohdees. 638 41.34
The tael of Mocamoca, 1/16th catty = 1½ ringit = 4 pauh = 16 mas = 64 koopang or soocoo. 638 41.34
The Chinese tael, a commercial weight, 1/16th catty = 10 chehs = 100 hoons = 1000 lees = 10,000 see = 100,000 hoots 583.333 37.80
Natal, Ayer-Bonghye and Tappanooly The tael or tale, for gold and silver, = 16 ammas = 100 condorines = 384 rackays 584 37.84
The Chinese tael, a commercial weight, 1/16th catty = 1 1/3 ounces avoirdupois 583.333 37.80
Padang The tale or tail = 16 mas or maces = 100 condorines = 700 rachin 636 41.21
Palembang The tale or tail, 1/10th catty = 2¼ réaux 949.5 61.52

Doursther then comments:

Nous ferons observer que les poids du tale d'Achem, indiqué ci-dessus, d'apres toutes les métrologies, est basé sur d'anciennes donnés, de l'exactitude desquelles on peut douter, d'autant plus que ce poids ne s'accorde en aucune manière avec ceux des autres parties de l'ile Sumatra, telles que Bencoulen et Fort-Marlborough dont les poids ont été vérifiés a Londres sur des étalons reçus directement en 1821.

We observe that the weight given above for Achem, following all the metrologies, is based on old data, the accuracy of which one may doubt, especially since this weight does not agree in any way with those of other parts of the island of Sumatra, such as Bencoulen and Fort Marlborough, whose weights were verified in London based on standards received directly in 1821.

Odd as this inconsistency seems, it appears to be genuine:

The most established weight in trade, is the tial or tael, which differs however in the northern and southern parts of the island, being in Natal twenty four penny weights, nine grains [37.9 grams], and at Padang, Bencoolen and elsewhere, twenty six penny weights, twelve grains [41.2 g].

William Marsden.
The History of Sumatra… Second Edition.
London: Printed for the author, 1784.
Page 136.

Kelly (1835), who had the active cooperation of the British East India Company and made a special effort to ascertain East Asian weights accurately, also states “the tale differs in the Northern and Southern parts of the island” (page 112). He gives the following magnitudes:

Locale Value of tael grams page #
Acheen 1/100th catti of 30 oz 17 dwt 12 gr troy 9.60 97
Bencoolen 26 dwts 12 gr. troy 41.21 101
Natal 1 oz. 4 dwt. 9 gr. troy 38.10 112
Padang 1 oz 6 dwts 12 gr troy 41.21 112
Palimbang gold and silver, 1/10 catty of 19 oz 15 dwt 14 gr 61.52 112
Sinkell 118
Fort
Marlborough
638 gr (silver weight) 41.34 343
575.625 gr. = 1 1/3 oz (commercial weight) 37.30 344
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