Different Weight Systems

The heaviest Burmese Opium Weight was one ‘viss’. Taking one viss as a starting point we conduct the whole system as follows:

1 Tikal Viss = 100 = 1600 grams
Tikal 1/2 Viss = 50 = 800 grams
20 Tikal = 320 grams
10 Tikal = 160 grams
5 Tikal = 80 grams
2 Tikal = 32 grams
1 Tikal = 16 grams
1/2 Tikal = 8 grams
1/4 Tical = 4 grams
1/8 Tikal = 2 grams

During the 19th century heavier opium weights were in use as well, for example 2,5 viss and 5 viss weights. In 1980, in Bangkok we were offered a beautiful hintha opium weight of 10 viss dating from the same period.

All opium weights should correspond more or less to the system explained above, but there are differences in weight caused by wearing off in daily use or changes of the tical.

Another system is based upon the following weight units: 2 grs, 4grs, 8 grs, 16 grs, 32 grs, 75 grs, 150 grs, 300 grs, 750 grs.
In a third system each unit represents the double weigh of the proceeding one: 2 grs, 4 grs, 8 grs, 16 grs, 32 grs, 64 grs, 128 grs, 256 grs.

Since this system is especially concerned with elephant opium weights, we therefore beleave that it is of Laotic origin.
The heaviest elephant weight we know about weigh 327 grs (20 tical) and 791 (50 tical) respectively.

To make the rather chaotic systems of weights even more confusing, weights have been found that do not fit in any system at all, most of all the special motif weights (horses, elephants or monkeys).

Speculation have been made that different weights were used by less honourable merchants for the purchase and sale of goods.

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