These three small bronze weights in the shape of birds or animals were an integral part of the Burmese economy from at least the 1300s to the 1800s. They were used in market places all over Burma to weigh commodities such as food, raw materials, metals and precious stones. Goods were measured on balance scales hung with a basket on either end, the weight of the purchase being equal to the selected bronze weight.
This system of weights and measures was controlled by the throne, with all weights required to match a standard which was determined by each king at the start of his reign and kept by the parliament. The largest weight was a viss, being 100 ticals (about1600 grams), down to 1/8 of a tical. They were made by skilled artisans in pantin, the Burmese art of bronze casting by the lost wax method, with great attention being paid to the exact amount of both wax and metal used.
The most common form used for these weights were the hintah (Brahmin duck), the karaweik (Indian cuckoo) and the toe, a mythical animal said to inhabit the Himalayan forest. There are four kinds of toe: the toe naya which resembles a lion, the toe oung which is like a bull, the toe myin which is more like the horse, and the toe nwa which resembles a cow. Sets of weights, together with the scales, were kept in beautifully carved wooden boxes.