picul, pikol, pikul

A unit of mass in China and Southeast Asia, typically used in the silk trade. Sometimes spelled “pecul.” Recorded as early as 1588.


In China, 133¹⁄₃ pounds, still the value in Malaysia, approximately 60.48 kilograms.



The Pecul is equal to 133¹⁄₃ lb.

The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australasia. Vol. 23. August, 1837.
London: Wm. H. Allen and Co., 1837.
Page 332.


In Malaysia, the pikul (by the government's spelling reform of Malay in 1972), 133¹⁄₃ pounds.


pikul. To carry a heavy load; to bear on the shoulders; to lift from the shoulder; to weigh; a measure of weight approximately equal to 133¹⁄₃ pounds avoirdupois.

Wilkinson, 1902, page 487.


In Laos, Cambodia opens a new page containing a chart that shows relationships between this unit and other units in its system, and Thailand, 60 kilograms. In Thailand, picul serves as a translation of the hap.

United Nations, 1966.

Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 322.



Pour le gros commerce, les marchandises lourdes, on se sert du picul (hap).
On fait usage de trois sortes de piculs :
1° Le picul dont le poids est équivalent au poids de 40 ligatures, ou 100 livres cambodgiennes de 600 grammes est celui qui est le plus employé au Cambodge.
2° Le picul de 42 ligatures, dont on ne se sert presque jamais.
3° Le picul de 45 ligatures, qui n'est employé que dans les rapports avec les Annamites de la Cochinchine.
Le picul de 40 ligatures se subdivise en demi-picul (nommé mo chông, de 20 ligatures).

In wholesale trade, the heavy items, one employs the picul (hap).

Use is made of three types of picul:

1. The picul whose weight is equal to the weight of 40 ligatures, or 100 livre cambodienne of 600 grams, is the one which is most used in Cambodia.

2. The picul of 42 ligatures, which now is almost never used.

3. The picul of 45 ligatures, which is used in trade with the Annamite of Cochin China.

The picul of 40 ligatures is subdivided into half-piculs (called mo chong, of 20 ligatures).

M. Moura.
Vocabulaire Français-Cambodgien et Cambodgien-Français.
Paris: Challamel Ainé, Libraire-Éditeur, 1878.
Pages 20, 21.

Comment: The sapeck or sapèque of Annam was a round zinc coin pierced with a square hole. A ligature was 600 of these sapecks strung together. According to Francois Thierry,¹ during this period a cash weighed “6 phần (approximately 2.28 Grams)”, making the ligature 1.368 kg. If so, 42 ligatures would be 57.46 kilograms and 45 would be 61.56 kg. A ligature (or binding of money) had 300 to 600 zinc coins depending upon the era. (See Thierry AMM V79)

1. Francois Thierry.
Monnaies et circulation monetairé au Vietnam dans l’ère Tự Đức (1848-1883).
Revue Numismatique, vol. 154 (1999). Pages 267-313.
An English translation by Stephen Greenblatt is available at art-hanoi.com/library/articlethierry.pdf


Pour le gros commerce, on fait usage de trois sortes de picul.
1° Le picul dont le poids est équivalant au poids de 40 ligatures ou 100 livres de 600 grammes, est celui qui est le plus employé au Cambodge.
2° Le picul légal ou de régie adopté par les Européens dans leurs rapports avec les Chinois, égal 60 k. 400 grammes.
3° Le picul de 45 ligatures, usité pour le commerce du riz avec les Annamites de Cochinchine. Il se subdivise en demi picul, appelé mo chong de 20 ligatures.

For wholesale trade, use is made of three types of picul.
1. The picul whose weight is equal to the weight of 40 ligatures, or 100 livres each of 600 grams; this is the one most often used in Cambodia.
2. The legal picul or by the regulations adopted by the Europeans in their trade with the Chinese, equal to 60.400 kilograms. [Note that this approximates 133¹⁄₃ pounds av.]
3. The picul of 45 ligatures, used in trade in rice with the Annamites of Cochin China. It is subdivided into small piculs, called mo chong, of 20 ligatures.

J. B. Bernard.
Dictionnaire Cambodgien-Français.
Hong Kong: Imprimerie de la Société des Missions Etrangères, 1902.
Pages 41-42.


In Indochina in the 19ᵗʰ and early 20ᵗʰ century the picul was used primarily by exporters.

government picul 133 ¹/3 pounds
commercial picul in Saigon 133.9 pounds (60.738 kg)
picul for skins and copra 149.8 pounds (67.95 kg)
picul for pepper, horns and hoofs 139.82 pounds (63.42 kg)


In the Netherlands East Indies, two units. In Java a unit of mass = 100 katis, about 61.520965 kilograms (taken as = 136 pounds avoirdupois). link to a chart showing relationships between Batavian units of mass See picol for the current spelling and (identical) value in Indonesia.

As a unit of capacity, = 14 gantangs, about 117.326 liters.

The Netherlands Indies.
Buitenzorg, Java: Div. of Commerce, Dept. of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, no date (no later than 1928).


In North Borneo, “a measure of 180 lb weight of water”


In Brunei, a unit of mass = 100 katis, about 60.4800 kilograms.

Technical Conversion Factors..., 1972, page 117.

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