Asian Tribal Art - Opium Weights, Burma

Home | Asian Art Gallery
Click on image below for larger photos

Opium weights
18th-19th century

The first opium weight is in the shape of the mythical ducklike bird called hantha, while the second and third represent the lion-like chinthe. See additional views below.

"Before the advent of a regular currency, transactions in the bazaars were made by weighing out lumps of metal, 'ganza', and in order to ensure that the correct amount of ganza was weighed out, the bullion merchants and shopkeepers used a series of weights which had been officially approved. The origin of these weights has not been established but it is thought that they were introduced to Thailand by the Burmese when they conquered Ayudhya in the sixteenth century, and as collectable pieces they are now commonly known as Siamese Opium Weights due to their use with the opium trade." (M. Robinson & L.A. Shaw, THE COINS AND BANKNOTES OF BURMA)
#3416  2.75" (7 cm) high  320 grams  $100
#3417  2" (5 cm) high  166 grams  $100
#3418  2" (5 cm) high  160 grams  $75 His tail was broken off long ago and the dust between his legs has been removed, though visible in some photos.

Home | Asian Art Gallery

back to top