mitkal

See also: misqal, miskal

Also romanized as mitgal and mithkal. From pre-Islamic times to the present, an Arabic unit of mass for gold and precious stones.

1

In Africa, 13th – 20th centuries, the principal unit of mass in the trade in gold dust between West and North Africa, = 1/6th of the North African trade ounce, about 4.5 grams. The trade ounce was descended from the Roman ounce, which had been similarly divided into 6 sextarii.

According to Garrard (1980, page 225), the eastern part of the Akan area, in what is now Ghana, tended to use a weight series based on this mitkal, while to the west, in present-day Ivory Coast, a series based on the trade ounce was more common. He explains the difference by the difference in predominant trade items: Ghana produced more gold dust, while the future Ivoriens traded ivory and other more massive items.

2

In North Africa and the Sahel, for coined gold the mitkal (or dinar) was reckoned at 6 2/3 mitkals to the ounce, so the mitkal was about 4.05 grams.

In Mande, a language often used in trade, the word was metikale.

3

In Sudan A map showing the location of Sudan., a unit of mass = 40 habba. Amery contradicts himself on this subject. On page 427 he states the mitgal equals 40 habba of gold, and the kirat 10 habba (i.e., 1 mitgal = 4 kirats), while on page 430 he says the mitgal equals 24 kirat. One mitgal = 1½ dirhem, about 4.68 grams (72.22 grains).

H[arald] F[rançois] S[aphir] Amery.
English-Arabic Vocabulary for the Use of Officials of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, compiled in the Intelligence Department of the Egyptian Army.
Cairo: Al-Mokattam Printing Office, 1905.

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