Lewis Chess Set, £225.00
Weight: 101.500 g
Gift of Major R.C. Temple
Room 33: Asia
Burma (Myanmar), 18th century AD
During the eighteenth century the monetary system in Burma was based on weighed amounts of silver. The currency was made by merchants under licence from the king. The most common form of silver ingot was a disc with flowery patterns across its upper surface. This pattern was formed by the cooling process used after the ingots were cast: the silversmith blew on each disc through a straw and the pattern only formed if the silver was of sufficient purity. In this way the flowery pattern was a mark of pure silver.
The silver flower ingots were not made to be of a particular weight, but were used in payments according to their weight. If the ingot was too large, it was simply cut to size. If too small, extra pieces of silver were cut from another ingot.
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)