Rare Chiang Saen Bronze Elephant Opium Weight EOW188


This is only the second time that we have been able to offer an elephant weight in this style from Chiang Saen (Northern Thailand) in our gallery, since they are very rare. The base and verification mark are quite distinct from other elephant weights. It is in excellent condition and the quality of bronze is first rate, with a superb patina.

Availability: In stock

While elephant weights are found occasionally in Laos, Burma and Yunnan, there is little doubt that the elephant weight’s origins is in north-west Siam, the former Lan-Na kingdom of Siam (Thailand) and spread to Laos, the former Lan Chang. It’s thought that elephant weights made their first appearance in Siam as early as 1581AD. By the 1800s a variety of animal weights were in use and even traded as currency and include birds, snakes, buffalo, rabbits, dogs, horses and monkeys in both Siam and Laos.

It is agreed that the animal weights of Siam & Laos were generally less accurate than Burmese weights. The mass scales varied from 11.8 grams to 16.3 grams. In 1826AD the mass unit was reported to be 11.8 grams. As the mass unit varied over time, weights were adjusted in a variety of ways including removing nuggets of bronze or adding lead. This particular weight does not appear to have been adjusted.

Height: 2.4cm, 1 in
Base: 2.1cm, 0.8 in
Weight: 26 grams
Period: Early 19th Century

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