In Burma and then Myanmar, at least as early as the 19ᵗʰ century – 21st century, a unit of dry capacity, = 9 imperial gallons, approximately 40.915 liters. (UN 1966) It was made 9 imperial gallons by the Measuring Baskets Standardization Act (No. I) of 1939.¹ The term “basket” was introduced by the English; it is a translation of the Burmese tinn or thamardi tinn.

In the mid 19ᵗʰ century, Doursther² described the basket as a unit of mass, 53¹⁄₃ pounds avoirdupois (approximately 24.19 kilograms) = 16 viss. This is a conventional weight of a basket (in the sense of this definition) of hulled rice. Nelkenbrecher³ states that in commerce, late 19ᵗʰ century, it was taken as 58.4 pounds, but often as half of an English hundredweight, that is, 56 pounds of rice. Simmonds⁴ says the basket is 2218.19 cubic inches (which is appreciably less than the 2496.7 cubic inches in 9 imperial gallons), and held 48¼ pounds of paddy, 57½ of cargo rice, and 62 lb of cleaned rice.

1. W. W. Dalziel.
British India.
Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law, Third Series, vol. 23, no. 2/3, pages 124-138 (1941).

Page 136.

2. Doursther (1840), page 51.

3. Nelkenbrecher (1890), page 723.

4. Simmonds (1892), page 431.



An endeavour has been made to introduce a standard “basket,” containing 2,218.19 cubic inches, but it has not been very succesful for want of legislative authority.

H. J. Chaney.
Our Weights and Measures. A Practical Treatise on the Standard Weights and Measures in Use in the British Empire
London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1897.
Page 41.


… the basket [is said] to have come into existence as being the amount of unhusked rice a man could conveniently carry at one time. The Burmese Government appears to have made some attempt at standardising it, and the British Government has more or less recognised as the standard basket one containing 9 gallons, other baskets being defined in Government reports in terms thereof. The baskets in ordinary use throughout the country vary a good deal, being usually somewhat smaller than 9 gallons. Most, however, contain between 8 and 9 gallons.

C. A. Silberrad.
The Weights and Measures of India.
Nature, vol. 110, no. 2757, September 2, 1922.
Page 329.


Ditch the viss, govt urges traders

The basket, viss, tin and tical would largely disappear from Myanmar if the Ministry of Commerce gets its way.

At a meeting on the development of wholesale centres held in Magwe last month, participants agreed in principle to the government's proposal to adopt the kilogram as the basic unit for commodities trade in all townships.

If implemented, the kilogram would replace traditional, non-metric measurements that are used widely in domestic trade. The government is pushing the change to make foreign trade, which is conducted exclusively in metric measurements, simpler and bring the country in line with its trading partners.

Despite agreeing to consider the proposal, traders who participated in the meeting told The Myanmar Times afterwards they thought there was little chance of its being implemented in the near future.

A beans and pulses trader from Magwe with more than 40 years experience in the industry agreed producers were unlikely to accept the shift to the metric system.

“In the past we couldn't even shift from using the basket to the viss. Even today sesame is purchased [from farmers] in Magwe using the basket. When selling sesame we do so using the viss. Rural people only know the basket and don't really accept any other measure. If we try to use a measure they are not familiar with they think they are being cheated.”

Ko Ko Gyi. (Thit Lwin, translator).
Ditch the viss, govt urges traders.
The Myanmar Times, July 18-24, 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2012.


In the United States, first half of the 20ᵗʰ century, Congress defined a number of standard baskets.

In 1916,¹ Congress prescribed dimensions for 2-quart, 4-quart, and 12-quart “Climax baskets” for grapes, other fruits and vegetables and mushrooms, and required that the capacities of any baskets used for berries, small fruits, and so on, be one dry half pint, one dry pint, one dry quart, or multiples of the dry quart. <what about June 11, 1934, c 447, §1, 48 Stat.930?>

In 1928,² they passed a law requiring "hampers and round stave baskets” to contain either 1/8, ½, 5/8, ¾, 1¼, 1½, or 2 bushels, while splint baskets had to contain either 4, 8, 12, 16, 24, or 32 dry quarts. In 1954, 3/8-bushel baskets were added, and in 1964,⁴ 1/16, 7/8, and 1 1/8-bushel baskets, and 11-quart and 14-quart splint baskets.

Finally deciding nothing was gained by regulating basket sizes, Congress repealed all of the above laws in 1968.⁵

1. August 31, 1916, c 426 §1 and 2, 39 Stat. 673.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures.
To Fix the Standards for Berry Baskets: Hearings before the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures, House of Representatives, Sixty-fourth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 14945. May 4, 1916.
Washington: U.S.G.P.O., 1916.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures. To Standardize Berry Baskets: Hearings before the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures, House of Representatives, Sixty-fourth Congress, First Session, on June 6, 1916.
Washington: U.S.G.P.O., 1916.

Besides H.R. 14945, also considered H.R. 16065 and H.R. 16174.

2. May 21, 1928, c. 664, §1, 45 Stat. 685.

3. June 28, 1954, c. 406, §1, 68 Stat. 301.

4. August 30, 1964, Public Law 88-516, §1, 78 Stat. 697.

5. October 22 1968, Public Law 90-628, §1(a) and (b), 82 Stat. 1320.


In New Hampshire, United States, the capacity of the charcoal basket was fixed at 18 gallons, level measure (state legislature Acts of 29 December 1828 and 1 January 1849.)

Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the Construction and Distribution of Weights and Measures.
Senate. 34th Congress, 3rd Session. Ex. Doc. No. 27.
Washington: A.O. P. Nicholson, Printer, 1857.

Page 41. The author of the report was A. D. Bache.

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