Japanese Antiques and Japanese Art

Burmese Currency Weights Dated 1800


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Sculpture: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 780145

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Set of Three Royal Animal-Shaped Currency Weights from Burma, Dated 1800. From the 15th century up to the end of the 19th century, animal-shaped weights functioned as a means to measure currency, such as silver ingots or any other precious material that was a means of exchange. There were three main animal shapes used, one of which were these duck-like bird figures. These weights could also serve in a religious context as Buddhist reminders of the need for honesty (accuracy in weighing) during commercial transactions. These weights were very common throughout Burma, although their production ended before the 20th century. As with coinage, new weight styles and designs were regularly issued, and these three particular bird weights, with their V shaped indentation on the back, can be exactly dated to 1800. See “Earth to Heaven: the Royal Animal-Shaped Weights of the Burmese Empires” (Gear & Gear 1992) for more information as to their form and function. They are made from a copper-lead alloy. Much of the material culture of Burma was destroyed during its many wars and invasions, and these weights are one of the few kinds of artifacts to have survived the periods of metal shortages and looting that so frequently visited Burma. 2 1/8 inch (5.5cm), 1 3/4 inch (4.5cm), 1 1/8 inch (3cm). Very Good Condition.