In Thailand, ? – 20th century, a unit of dry and liquid capacity, after the metric standardization of 1923 = 1 liter1. Also romanized as kanahn, tannan, thanan, and fanan. Abbreviation, tn. See fanam for the unit of mass of that name. The word also means “coconut shell,” and the measuring vessel itself was usually a coconut shell. Such a shell was considered a proper measure, for both liquid and dry measure, if it held 830 tamarind seeds.2
In the 19th century, during the period of British influence the tanan was defined as 5 × 5 × 4 niu, Since the wah was then defined as 80 inches, the niu was 5/6 inch, making the tanan 57.87037 cubic inches, or about 0.948 liter. In 1876, at the request of the government of Siam, the Standards Department of the English Board of Trade compared two Thai standard tanans, one of german silver and the other of brass, with the English standards.3 The german silver tanan was found to have a capacity of 57.8800 cubic inches, and the brass tanan, 58.091 cubic inches, both at 85°F, the temperature specified by Siamese law for calibrating standards.
1. United Nations, 1966, and by the Weights and Measures Act B.E. 2542 (1999).
2. 1894 Directory for Bangkok and Siam.
Bangkok: The Bangkok Times, 1894.
Reprinted by the White Lotus Press (Bangkok), circa 1996.
3. W. A. Browne, 1879. Pages 274-5.
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Last revised: 14 August 2012.