Thailand
units of capacity

Liquid Capacity

thang

tanan

20

chauk

4

80

250
mL

1
L

20
L

Dry Capacity, 19th century
       

kwien

             

ban

2

     

sat

40

80

     

thang

50

100

   

tanan

20

25

1000

2000

   

fai mue

8

160

200

8,000

16,000

kam mue

4

32

640

800

32,000

64,000

หยิบ มือ yip mue

4

16

128

2560

3200

128,000

256,000

in imperial gallons

1.66
imp.pt

3.75
imp gal

4.17
imp gal

187.5
imp gal

375
imp gal

based on the 1876 trials
of tanans in London

948
mL

18.96
L

23.7
L

948
L

1896
L

 

6.7
mL

26.6
mL

106.5
mL

852
mL*

17.04
L

21.30
L

852
L

1704
L

A transaction involving, say, rice could be made using either of two "bushels". The larger bushel, the sat, was both a unit and an object, a bamboo basket. The smaller unit was also both object and unit, a wooden pail, a thang. The sat held 25 standard coconut shells of rice (a tanan) while the smaller thang held only 20. Making up for this difference, the next larger unit, the ban, held 50 thangs but only 40 sats. These relationships are shown above.

What seems to have happened is that in the 20th century use of the thang ended, and the sat acquired the thang's old magnitude. In the period of transition one encounters the word thangsat, apparently sometimes, at least, a sat with the capacity of a thang.

Dry Capacity, 20th century
       

kwien

           

ban

2

     

sat 

50

100

   

tanan

20

1000

2000

   

fai mue

8

160

8,000

16,000

 

kam mue

4

32

640

32,000

64,000

yip mue

4

16

128

2560

128,000

256,000

since 1923

7.81
mL

31.25
mL

125
mL

1
L

20
L

1000
L

2000
L

       

sources

1

Siamese Liquid Measures

The Siamese liquid measure is very simple. A kanahn [tanan] is a coconut shell supposed to be capable of holding 830 tamarind seeds. This measure is used in dry as well as in liquid measure.

The government kanahn do not vary in size; they all follow the standard given above. The chauk is a small brass bowl. The tang [thang] is a wooden bucket, 4 chauk make one kanahn, 20 kanahn make 1 tang.

Siamese Dry Measures

The names of these measures are, first, the kanahn, which is usually made of a coconut shell, second the sat, which is usually a bamboo basket; third, the tang, usually a wooden bucket; fourth the kwien, a cart.

The coconut shell is the starting point in all these measures, and the kanahn generally used contains from a pint and a half to one quart English [imperial -ed.] measure. If the coconut shell can hold 830 tamarind seeds, the measure is a legal one. In transactions where the sat is used as a measure, the calculation is as follows:

830 tamarind seeds make 1 kahahn

25 kanahn make 1 sat

80 sat make 1 kwien

In transactions where the bucket (tang) is used, the rule is 20 kanahn make 1 tang; 100 tang make 1 kwien.

Liquids are often measured in this way, but are more generally sold by weight especially if sold in large quantity.

1894 Directory for Bangkok and Siam.
Bangkok: The Bangkok Times, 1894.
Reprinted by the White Lotus Press (Bangkok), circa 1996.

2

Divisions. Systematic name. English value. Metric value
1 Thanan Pint
= 1.6685
Litres
= .8519
20 Thanans = 1 Thang Gallons.
= 3.75
= 17.038076
25 Thanans or 1¼ Thang = 1 Thangsat = 4.1743 = 21.297595
80 Thangsats or 100 Thang = 1 Coyan = 375 Hectolitres
= 1.7038076

W. A. Browne, 1879, page 275.

3

Please see Pallegoix.

4

The cocoa-nut (khănan or thanan), about 19/20 of a litre is the point of departure of measures of capacity. Grains are measured with the bushel (sat), and with the cart (kien)[kwien], but the capacity of the bushel and of the cart is not always the same. The cart contains 80 or 100 bushels. The bushel of which 100 make a cart [the thang] usually contains 20 khănan; that of which 80 make a cart [the sat] contains sometimes 28, sometimes 30, 40, etc. khănan.

Liquids are measured with the khănan, with the thang (bushel), or with the the (jar). The thang and the the contain each about 19 liters.

D. J. B. Pallegoix.
J. L. Vey, revisor.
Siamese French English Dictionary.
Bangkok: Printing-Office of the Catholic Mission, 1896.
Introduction page 47.

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