collonda

In Ceylon (Sri Lanka), 17th century, a unit of mass.

Knox says 6 collanda ≈ the weight of a Spanish “piece of eight.” The Spanish dollar was noninally 27.468 grams, making the collonda about 4.58 grams. But he also says 20 “red berries” make a collonda. The red berries might have been Abrus precatorius seeds, the basis of Indian jewellers' weights. A modern¹ weighing of Ghanaian Abrus seeds resulted in an average of 0.074 grams per seed, so 20 would be 1.48 grams. However, the Indian jewellers' weight, the gunja, conceptually the weight of an Abrus seed, is 0.1417 grams², so 20 would be about 2.83 grams. Both results, of course, are far from 4.58 grams.

1. Garrard (1980, page 232)

2. Calculated from H. H. Wilson, 1855, page 190.

sources

For their Weights, their smallest is a Collanda, six make just a Piece of eight. They have half Collondas, and quarter Collondas. When they are to weigh things smaller than a Collonda, they weigh them with a kind of red Berries, which grow in the Woods, and are just like Beads. The Goldsmiths use them, Twenty of these Beads make a Collonda, and Twenty Collondas make a Pallum.

Robert Knox.
An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon, in the East-Indies: together with an Account of the Detaining in Captivity the Author and divers other Englishmen now Living there, and of the Author's Miraculous Escape.
London: Richard Chiswell, 1681.
Page 98.

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