Mumbai, India
19ᵗʰ century salt measures











cubic inches, according to Kelly










5¹⁄₃ lb

56 lb

2½ tons

40 tons

2.419 kg

25.40 kg

2540.12 kg

40,641.88 kg

1. India does not, properly speaking, possess dry or liquid measures. Where these are employed, they depend upon, and in fact represent, the seer or the maund weight; the mention of measures has been accordingly omitted in the foregoing scheme for Bengal, leaving the value of any vessel of capacity to rest solely on the weight contained in it.

The mode in which this is effected for the ‘dry measures’ of South and West India is, by taking an equal mixture of the principal grains, and forming a vessel to hold a given weight thereof, so as to obtain an average measure. Sometimes salt is included among the ingredients. Trichinopoly is the only place where grain is said never to be sold by weight.

[James Prinsep.]
Useful Tables, forming an Appendix to the Journal of the Asiatic Society. Part the First. Coins, Weights and Measures of British India.
Calcutta: Printed at the Baptist Mission Press, Circular Road, 1834.



Salt Measure.

    cubic inches
10½ Adowlies = 1 Parah = 1607.61
100 Parahs = 1 Anna = 160761
16 Annas = 1 Rash = 2572176

The Anna weighs 2½ Tons, and the Rash 40 Tons.

Kelly (1821), Supplement page 337.


The large dry measure for salt in Bombay is the para, containing 10½ adholee, whereof 100 make an anna; one anna is equal to 2½ tons, and 1600 para, to 16 anna, make one rash, or 40 tons. The para measure when used is struck off even with the rim by a rod made for the purpose.

Robert Montgomery Martin.
History of the Colonies of the British Empire in the West Indies, South America, North America, Asia...
London: W. H. Allen & Co. and George Routledge, 1843.
Page 144 of Appendix 4.


Bombay. L'adowly, measure de sel, dont 10½ font le parah, contient 153.1057 pouces cubes anglais = 4.417 pintes anglaises = 2.509 litres et pèse 5.333 livres avoirdupois, 2.419 kilog.

Bombay. The adowlie, a salt measure, of which 10½ make a parah, contains 153.1057 English cubic inches = 4.417 English pints = 2.509 liters and weighs 5.333 pounds avoirdupois or 2.419 liters.

Doursther (1840) page 4.


Salzmaass. Das Rash (Räsch) von 16 Annas zu 100 Parahs, an Rauminhalt = 421,4816 Hektol., an Gewicht = 40 Engl. Tons = 4064,190166 kg.

Salt measures. The rash of 16 annas each of 100 parahs, in volume = 421.4816 hectoliters, in weight = 40 English tons = 4064.190166 kg.

Nelkenbrecher (1890), page 138. The conversion of 40 English tons (of 2240 pounds each) to kilograms is in error.


Salt-pans, or rather salt-fields, are formed in Travencore, as in most other parts of the Malabar coast : they are large reservoirs enclosed by mounds of earth, into which the sea flows at high tides ; from whence by a simple process, the water is conveyed into a range of small inclosures, where in the course of the day the fluid is evaporated and the salt gathered in the evening. These reservoirs are most productive in the hot months preceding the rainy season; and from every part of the coast, salt forms the chief article of inland commerce.

These salt-pans being generally near populous towns and villages, the men employed there are not more exposed to tigers and beasts of prey, than those occupied in the usual pursuits of husbandry: not so the Molungies, or salt-boilers, in the Sunderbunds, or wild regions of Bengal; who, of all the castes and tribes throughout the whole extent of Hindostan, seem to have the hardest fate. I would rather be a Pariah or Chandala, subject to their most ignominious treatment and cruel oppression, than one of these unfortunate Molungies, living in constant terror from the fiercest tigers, without any means of safety or redress. Their situation had often been represented to me by gentlemen from Bengal, and as often excited my commiseration ; but I had no idea of their complete misery until I read the account of the Sunderbunds by Captain Williamson; where he says, “the royal tigers are often seen swimming across the various rivers which form the innumerable islands inhabited only by wild beasts, and presenting an immense barrier all along the sea-coast, from Saugar island to the great mouth of the Megna. Of this propensity in tigers the Molungies are so thoroughly aware, that, while performing their duties on the long spits of sand which project into the sea from the impenetrable jungles that skirt the soil, a look-out is always kept for tigers on the opposite banks of the rivers; and as soon as any appear, the whole take to flight, and conceal themselves in caves excavated for the purpose; from which, it however sometimes happens, the hungry animal removes every obstacle with his claws, and drags out one or more of the inhabitants, already half dead with terror.

“The reader will naturally inquire, why some means are not adopted for opposing devastations of this nature, and securing the Molungies from such a dreadful misfortune? The fact is, that no one is a Molungie from choice; but, according to the principle prevailing throughout Hindostan, the occupation of the father and his ancestors is continued invariably by his posterity. The Molungies would, however, readily deviate from this principle if they had the power to do so; but, being kept to their posts by various guards of revenue peons, or officers, they are unable to quit their miserable situations. These revenue officers are, in addition to some provincial militia, posted at all the places whereby it is possible to escape in boats: as to making off by land, it would be utterly impossible; the surrounding country being an immense wilderness, full of tigers, abounding in snakes, aud intersected by a labyrinth of rapid waters, replete with alligators and other reptiles. This unfortunate race of human beings sometimes obtain an addition to their number when trespassers attempt to ascape from the pursuit of justice, and to wind through the mazes of the inland navigation. These are handed over to the salt-pans, whence not one in a million ever returns. To arm persons of such a description, would be to afford them an immediate emancipation; and would subvert that establishment which supplies Bengal with salt, and affords to the government a revenue not much under a million of money annually! No doubt but time will furnish the means of substituting some less objectionable means of providing so indispensable an article of consumption, and do away what must till then, be classed among the many necessary evils with which humanity is burthened!”

James Forbes.
Oriental Memoirs. 2nd ed. vol 1.
London: Richard Bentley, 1834.
Pages 232-235.

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