From Tachilek, Burma, this 18th (1700s) century bird weight is a charming 20 tical or kyat Burmese opium weight, formally
referred to as the royal animal shaped weights of the Burmese empires. The weight shows expected wear for its period and has a rich dark patina. Authentic opium weights are becoming rare, and supplies in Burma and Thailand are fast drying up, while fakes are increasing in number.
The bird form symbolized for the Burmese, a link between earth and heaven and
representing the flight of the soul. Please see below for dimensions,weight and shipping and further detail about opium weights from Burma.
Google sabai designs gallery to
see our rarest opium weights from Burma
Characteristics Height: 6cm, 2.4 in
Base: 4cm, 1.6 in
Base plan: hexagonal
Base lines: Barely visible
The History of Opium
Burmese, along with
the many minority ethnic groups that make up Burma's rich culture
have been fashioning objects of beauty and utility for over 2000 years. From
royal to peasant, finely crafted objects were used in everyday life. One of the
most curious and engaging objects of daily use in Burma was the opium weight.
The name opium weight, whimsically dubbed by later visitors to Burma, is somewhat
a misnomer. These bronze zoomorphic weights of various styles were used to
weigh a variety of materials including silver and gold ingots, pearls, rubies,
coral, personal ornaments, spices, musk and costly medicines. More common
products of daily commerce were weighed with dome shaped marble weights.
The earliest written evidence for the
existence of animal weights is found in a palm leaf manuscript written by
Nandabahu, an administrator during the time of Alaung-hpaya (1752-60),
which contains a list of weights and their usage. The earliest weights date
from the 13-14th century Pinya-Ava period and are exclusively in the form of
birds and beasts. The oldest weight I have personally seen is from the late
14th-early 15th century. These weights were also used over North Siam, Laos and
Yunnan, the result of periodic domination by the Burmese in these regions.
Opium weights were made using the lost
wax method, which may have reached Burma through Bengal or Yunnan. Great
care was taken in weighing the amount of molten metal used in casting to
ensure that the purported weight was accurate. The weights and measures system
was subject to the scrutiny of the king or queen, who after assuming the
throne, had a master set of weights made in the animal of his or her choosing.
These were housed in the Supreme Council of State (Hlut-taw) and citizens were
expected to ensure that the weights they used conformed to the standard
weights. Animal shaped weights were cast in Burma up until the British took
over Burma in 1885, after which uninteresting round iron weights were used.
sabai designs offers a dynamic collection of some
of the most beautiful and interesting items available from Thailand, Laos,
Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and India. Our products are hand made by skilled
artists, craftsmen and women and are often ‘one of a kind’ pieces. We are
constantly stocking our store with exotic new treasures that reflect the
colourful cultures and traditions of the East. We hope to support traditional
and emerging skills in developing countries by finding a global market for
their rich and diverse creations. sabai designsalso supports Elephant Nature Park, a
sanctuary for elephants in northern Thailand.
sabai designs supports ElephantNaturePark,
a sanctuary for injured and mistreated elephants in northern Thailand. The founder of the park,
Sangduen 'Lek' Chailert, is an award winning conservationist who has been
passionately championing the rights of the Asian elephant for decades.
The buyer is responsible for return postage costs.
Return policy details
We agree to refund money paid for an item, less the cost of postage, or offer store credit to any customer not satisfied with an item purchased.The item must be returned to us in its original condition within 14 days of receipt to qualify for a refund or store credit. Please notify us immediately if you intend to return an item.
Refunds by law: In Australia, consumers have a legal right to obtain a refund from a business for goods purchased if the goods are faulty, not fit for purpose or don't match description. More information at returns - opens in a new window or tab.
Buyer protection on eBay
Seller's payment instructions
We accept payment by PayPal and direct deposit into our bank account. sabai designs respects the rules and environment of trust maintained by eBay and asks that only serious buyers place bids on items. After purchase, the item will be posted as soon as payment is confirmed by PayPal or the bank. Prompt payment is appreciated. If payment is not received within 7 days after a listing closes with a winning buyer, a dispute will be lodged with eBay.
(estimated and based on max bid)To be provided at checkout
Your max bid:
Your max bid:
By clicking Confirm bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder.
By clicking Confirm bid, you are committing to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder and have read and agreed to the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount.