Two unrelated but sometimes confounded units, the first an important Islamic unit of mass, and the second an old English unit of capacity. After the 18th century, when the word occurs in English it is almost always an Islamic unit that is meant.
An Islamic unit of mass. In the mid-20th century it had the following values:
|Aden|| 28 pounds av. (approximately 12.7 kilograms).
“In the early part of 1913 the price of Mathari [coffee] has been $5.50 per maund of 28 pounds.”
Walter H. Schulz.
|the imperial maund = 40 seer, approximately 37.32 kilograms (approximately 82.28 pounds av.).¹|
|Bahrain||56 pounds av. (approximately 25.4 kilograms).¹|
|Bangladesh||80 pounds.² 82.29 lbs (37.32 kg)³|
|India||The Standards of Weights and Measures Act (No. 89 of 1956, amended in 1960 and 1964), which established the metric system in India, defined the maund as exactly 37.3242 kilograms.
Table of earlier values
|Oman , the Muscat maund||approximately 4.04 kilograms.¹|
|Nepal||approximately 37.32 kilograms (about 82.28 pounds av).¹ Applies to Terai.²|
|Pakistan||Before 1980, = 37.324 kilograms.¹ After 1980, = 40 kg.²|
|Saudi Arabia||approximately 37.285 kilograms¹|
1. United Nations 1966.
2. Rice Almanac, 2002.
3. Statesman's Yearbook 93-94.
In England, 15th – 18th centuries, a unit of capacity, probably about 2 or 3 pecks, except for unbound books, for which 1 maund = 2 fatts = 8 bales = 40 reams.
The object called a maund was a small wicker basket with handles. The unit maund was used to measure quantities of oranges, gloves, and other stuff that would be carried in such a basket. It is usually possible to distinguish the two by the context. For example, in every occurrence of the maund in the London Petty Customs accounts¹ for 1480-81, it is accompanied by an enumeration of contents, which shows the maund is not being used as a unit. For example:
2 Oct. From the ship of David Williamson called Mary of Rotherhithe
James Warre, A[lien], 1 maund with 8 pieces Ghentish linen cloth containing 200 ells, 50 shillings [the duty]
The maund also appears to have been the name of panniers used to transport coal on pack horses, holding a few pecks. See source note 3.
1. H. S. Cobb, editor.
The Overseas Trade of London. Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480-1.
London Record Society, 1990.
The quotation is from entry 6 (page 3); the maund also appears in entry 24 (page 8), entry 33 (page 13), entry 58 (page 20), entry 60 (page 21) and entry 120 (page 36).
Bookes unbound…the basket or maund cont. eight bales or two fatts
“A Subsidy granted to the King of Tonnage and Poundage and other summes of Money payable upon Merchandize Exported and Imported.”
A statute from the 12th year of Charles II, 1660. The selection is from the Booke of Rates, which is not part of the statute proper but developed from it. Both are printed in:
Statutes of the Realm, Volume 5: 1628-80, John Raithby, editor.
London: 1819. Page 185.
Maund, sb. a hand-basket with two lids; ‘ab A.S. mand, Fr. G. mandt, Ital. madia, corbis ansatus, utrumque à Lat.manus, quia propter ansas manu commodè circumferri potest.’—Skinner. It is used also in the South.
A Collection of English Words Not Generally used, with their Significations and Original, in two Alphabetical Catalogues, the one Of such as are proper to tbe Northern, the other to the Southern Counties…. 2nd edition.
London: Printed for Christopher Wilkinson, 1691.
from the edition edited by W. W. Skeat for the English Dialect Society.
London: Trübner, 1873-1874.
From the books of the Society of Hoastmen [in Newcastle], we also learn that the conveyance of coals from the pits to the staiths was chiefly carried on at this time by means of wains. The standard size of the wain, “tyme out of mynde,” is stated to have been eight bolls; but some having of late brought only or scarce seven bolls, an order was issued by the society in 1600, that all coal wains should be measured and marked. “Foothers” (i.e. fothers, or cart loads) are likewise mentioned; and also small panniers, or “maunds,” holding two or three pecks apiece, carried by pack-horses.
Annals of Coal Mining and the Coal Trade.
London: The Colliery Guardian Company, 1898.
Maund… (2) s. A basket. At Yarmouth this term is given to a basket containing five hundred herrings.
A Dictionary of Obsolete and Provincial English. vol 2.
London: Henry G. Bohn, 1886.
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Last revised: 16 September 2012.