Chingleput, India
19th century units of capacity

Chingleput was the name of a district and of a city, the modern Chengalpattu, about 60 km from Chennai (the former Madras).

Dry capacity (grain measures)

       

kallam

     

merkal

12

   

measure

8

160

 

olluck

8

64

6400

diameter, inches

2.6

5.0

10.3

NA

depth, inches

2.4

5.1

9.6

NA

capacity, cubic inches

12½

100

800

9000

204.8
mL

1.639
L

13.110
L

147.484
L

Crole, the source of the data above, comments:

“The Padi in most general use in the district contains 100 cubic inches of water as above, but measures 4 inches in diameter by 8 inches in depth.

“That lately introduced by the Government contains 65.01 inches of water at 82° Fahrenheit, equal to 80 Tolas of dried rice.”

Charles Stewart Crole.
The Chingleput, Late Madras, District. A Manual compiled under the orders of the Madras Government.
Madras: Printed at the Lawrence Asylum Press, Mount Road, by W. H. Moore, 1879.
Page 58.

 

The padi and confusingly named “measure” appear here as elsewhere to have been identical quantities that differed in the way they were measured. Six years later a different government report questioned whether the measure in actual use was in fact the government-specified 100 cubic inches. Note also the change in spelling, e.g, padi becomes puddy; kallam, cullum; and merkal, mercaul.

In the year 1800, it was officially reported that the ‘cullum’ was 12 Madras mercauls, (the mercaul being most probably the ‘customary’ one of 832 cubic inches struck). In the return to a circular of 1821, it was again reported that the weights and measures were the same as those in Madras, having been introduced by Mr. Coleman the Judge in 1810 A.D. But in 1850 it was reported that the Government standard ‘measure’ (100 cubic inches) was in use. This appears to have been an error, for when trials were made in 1852 it was found that the 'measure’ or puddy was on an average 107 cubic inches, but being of narrower diameter than the Madras ‘customary’ puddy of 104 cubic inches, it held about the same when heaped, or 120 to 128 rupees' weight (see Madras). The old table is-

124 tolahs' weight of rice =1 puddy slightly heaped.

     

garce

   

cullum

33 1/3

mercaul (heaped)

12

400

puddy

8

[96]

[3200]

[Figures in brackets added by editor.]

The normal contents of the puddy or measure now in use varies from 120 tolahs (about 107 cubic inches) in the Sydapett, Trivellore and Ponnairy talooks to 140 tolahs (118 cubic inches) in the Chingleput and 150 tolahs (128 cubic inches) in the Madrantacam and Conjeeveram talooks. Its diameter is 4.2 inches throughout except in the last mentioned talook where it is 5.5 inches.

The ‘pucka seer’ again was formerly used as a grain measure, and is said to be, when heaped with rice, 2/3 of the Madras ‘customary’ measure heaped, or 80 tolahs of rice when heaped. This would agree with the Madras ‘measure’ when only just topped and running over, but not heaped. (See Madras.)

The old ‘royajee’ mercaul and [royajee] cullum, called after the celebrated diwan and renter of the Nawab Wallajah, were respectively 1/3 of the present mercaul and cullum.

Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency… Volume II.
Madras: Printed by E. Keys, at the Government Press, 1885.
Page 509.

Liquid capacity

Throughout India, only milk, oil and ghee were sold by liquid measures, and the latter two often by weight. In Chingleput, milk was sold by the puddy and olluck.

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