In India, Pakistan, Aden, and Goa, ? – 20th century, a unit of mass = 180 grains, (approximately 11.664 grams). In India this value was legalized by the Standards of Weight Act IX of 1939. It was first legalized by the British authorities in Bengal in 1833.
Courtesy Rick Willis.
The tola was the legal weight of 19th-century Indian coins: the silver rupee and the gold mohur. In India, 1956 – present, the act that established the metric system¹ defined the tola as exactly 0.011 663 8 kilogram.
In Zanzibar the tola is slightly lighter², 11.398 grams.
1. Standards of Weights and Measures Act (No. 89 of 1956, amended in 1960 and 1964). See the First Schedule.
2. United Nations, 1966.
Tola, H[indi]. &c. ( , ) A certain weight, especially of silver, containing, under the old want of system, a varying number of Máshas, but usually regarded as equivalent to the weight of the Sikka rupee, or 179.666 troy grains. By Beng. Reg. vii. 1833, the weight of the Tola, taken as the unit of the new system of weights, was fixed at 180 troy grains : the scale is, 4 Dháns = 1 Ratí; 8 Ratís = 1 Másha; 12 Máshas = 1 Tolá; 5 Tolás = 1 Chitánk; 16 Chitánks = 1 Ser; 40 Sers = 1 Man or Maund, which is thus exactly equal to 100 troy pounds.
H. H. Wilson, 1855, page 524.
In 1867-68 the British debated introducing the metric system in India. As a contribution to the debate, H.T.Prinsep wrote two extremely interesting minutes on the history of the 180-grain rupee tola and its use as a standard of mass.
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Last revised: 29 November 2015.