In Asia, a unit of mass variously defined. In the 20th century¹:
1. United Nations, 1966.
The actual theoretic weight, apart from any question of the quality of silver, is not ascertainable with any degree of certainty. The present Statistical Secretary, using an official weight of 100 taels dated 1867, which had been verified at Canton by a weight of 1846, found it to be 581.55 grains. The result of independent tests at Canton in the same year (1905) gave a weight of 581.83 grains, while the estimates of other Commissioners range from 581 to 589 grains. Mr. Pascal Martin, in 1880, after very careful inquiry, decided on 581.47 grains; Mr. H. Kopsch (Statistical Secretary, 1891-97) found it to be 587.66 grains; and Mr. E. C. Taintor (Statistical Secretary, 1873-76) fixed it at 582.94 grains. The only outside authority to which appeal can be made is in the Treaties. By the Trade Regulations annexed to the British Treaty of 1858 the "picul of one hundred catties is held to be equal to one hundred and thirty-three and one-third pounds, avoirdupois," giving a catty of l 1/3 lb av. and a tael of 1 1/3 oz. av., equal to 583.3 grains; while the Regulations annexed to the French Treaty of 1858 fix the picul at 60 kilos. and 453 grammes, which gives a resultant tael of 37.783 grammes or 583.1 grains.
H. B. Morse.
Currency in China.
Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 38 (1907)
Shanghai, etc.: Kelly and Walsh.
Another name for the Chinese liang.
In Hong Kong, 20th – 21st centuries, the tael troy, a unit of mass used for gold, = 37.429 grams. 1 tael troy = 10 mace troy = 100 candareen troy.
On the island of Sumatra, two distinct units of mass, varying by locality.
Doursther (1840) lists the following magnitudes:
|Locale||Names, equivalents||English grains (troy)||grams|
|Achem||The tale = ¹⁄₅ buncall = 2⁴⁄₅ pagodes = 3¹⁄₅ mayons or miams = 16 maces or mas = 64 copangs or coupangs||148.2||9.60|
|Bencoolen or Bencoulen.||The tael or tale for gold and silver = 1½ ringit = 12 kepings = 16 maces or mas = 100 condorines = 360 coondees||638||41.34|
|Jamby||The tale or tail = 16 mas||614||39.78|
|Marlborough (Fort-)||The tael for gold and silver = 1½ ringit = 12 keping = 360 coohdees.||638||41.34|
|The tael of Mocamoca, ¹⁄₁₆ catty = 1½ ringit = 4 pauh = 16 mas = 64 koopang or soocoo.||638||41.34|
|The Chinese tael, a commercial weight, ¹⁄₁₆ catty = 10 chehs = 100 hoons = 1000 lees = 10,000 see = 100,000 hoots||583.333||37.80|
|Natal, Ayer-Bonghye and Tappanooly||The tael or tale, for gold and silver, = 16 ammas = 100 condorines = 384 rackays||584||37.84|
|The Chinese tael, a commercial weight, 1/16th catty = 1 1/3 ounces avoirdupois||583.333||37.80|
|Padang||The tale or tail = 16 mas or maces = 100 condorines = 700 rachin||636||41.21|
|Palembang||The tale or tail, 1/10th catty = 2¼ rèaux||949.5||61.52|
Doursther then comments:
Nous ferons observer que les poids du tale d'Achem, indiqué ci-dessus, d'apres toutes les métrologies, est basé sur d'anciennes donnés, de l'exactitude desquelles on peut douter, d'autant plus que ce poids ne s'accorde en aucune manière avec ceux des autres parties de l'ile Sumatra, telles que Bencoulen et Fort-Marlborough dont les poids ont été vérifiés a Londres sur des étalons reçus directement en 1821.
We observe that the weight given above for Achem, following all the metrologies, is based on old data, the accuracy of which one may doubt, especially since this weight does not agree in any way with those of other parts of the island of Sumatra, such as Bencoulen and Fort Marlborough, whose weights were verified in London based on standards received directly in 1821.
Odd as this inconsistency seems, it appears to be genuine:
The most established weight in trade, is the tial or tael, which differs however in the northern and southern parts of the island, being in Natal twenty four penny weights, nine grains [37.9 grams], and at Padang, Bencoolen and elsewhere, twenty six penny weights, twelve grains [41.2 g].
The History of Sumatra… Second Edition.
London: Printed for the author, 1784.
Kelly (1835), who had the active cooperation of the British East India Company and made a special effort to ascertain East Asian weights accurately, also states “the tale differs in the Northern and Southern parts of the island” (page 112). He gives the following magnitudes:
|Locale||Value of tael||grams||page #|
|Acheen||1/100th catti of 30 oz 17 dwt 12 gr troy||9.60||97|
|Bencoolen||26 dwts 12 gr. troy||41.21||101|
|Natal||1 oz. 4 dwt. 9 gr. troy||38.10||112|
|Padang||1 oz 6 dwts 12 gr troy||41.21||112|
|Palimbang||gold and silver, 1/10 catty of 19 oz 15 dwt 14 gr||61.52||112|
|638 gr (silver weight)||41.34||343|
|575.625 gr. = 1 1/3 oz (commercial weight)||37.30||344|
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Last revised: 27 March 2017.