BĀTMAN, a measure of weight, the same as mann (q.v.) but more common in Central Asia, especially in modern times. The earliest information about bātman goes back to the 14th century; but most data are from the 17th-19th centuries. There was a great variety of bātmans in different regions of Central Asia. Beside the regional differences, separate varieties of bātman were apparently used for weighing different goods. All Central Asian bātmans were based on the meṯqāl (as distinct from Middle Eastern, including Iranian, manns, which were based on the derham). Theoretically the bātman consisted of 40 sīr (with smaller fractional units), but the most frequently used portions were dūnīmsīr = 1/16 of a bātman, čāryak = 1/4 of a dūnīmsīr, and unsīr 1/4 of a bātman (in Ḵᵛārazm). An analysis of indigenous and European sources done by E. A. Davidovich allowed her to establish more than two dozen different Central Asian bātmans (or manns) differentiated by the names of the regions where they were in use, though some are identical in weight.

In Bukhara, two groups of manns, or bātmans, existed originally: (a) units of “small weight,” based on a meṯqāl of 4.8 g: mann-e šarīʿ = 180 meṯqāl = 0.864 kg (recorded in the 14th and 18th centuries); mann-e ṭāqī = 5 mann-e šarīʿ = 4.32 kg (close to it, the bātman of Karšī [18th century] = 10 Russian pounds = about 4.0 kg); and a bātman = 1375 meṯqāl = 6.6 kg (18th century); (b) units of “big weight” (sang-e bozorg), based on a meṯqāl of 5.0 g: a bātman = 5120 meṯqāl = 25.6 kg; also a bātman five times greater of 128 kg; and a mann of Samarkand = 4000 meṯqāl = 20 kg (16th century). Another group of bātmans was based on the Russian pud (1 bātman =16 pud = 262.088 kg, and 1 bātman = 8 pud = 131.044 kg), but they were artificially calculated in meṯqāl of 4.8 g; they appeared in the 16th or 17th centuries due to the development of trade with Russia, but were widely used also in internal trade (in the 19th century the bātman of 8 pud was chiefly used). In other places in Transoxiana (Samarkand, Jīzak, Ura-Tübe) and in Farḡāna, the 16-pud and especially the 8-pudbātmans were also used in the 19th century.

Beside these, the following main bātmans were recorded in other regions of Central Asia:

1. Ḵᵛārazm: 1 bātman = 4.095 kg (17th century), 3.788 kg and 7.371 kg (18th century). According to Moʾnes (Ferdows al-eqbāl, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leningrad, ms. C-571, fol. 122b), in the 1770s, 1 bātman of Khiva was 3 1/2 times heavier than those of Tabrīz, that is, 10.5 kg. In the 19th century, much heavier bātmans, mainly of two weights; 20kg (in Khiva, Hazārasp, and elsewhere, calculated at 4416 Khwarezrnian meṯqāls of 4.53 g) and 40 kg (in Urgeṇč, Ḵānqāh, Qongrat, etc.).

2. Jīzak, Kojand, Awlīāʾ-Atā (19th century): 1 bātman = 12 pud = 196.56 kg.

3. Farḡāna (19th century): beside the 8-pud bātman, also 1 bātman = 10 pud (163.8kg) and 10.5 pud (171.99 kg).

4. Tashkent and Chimkent (19th century): 1 bātman = 10.5 pud (171.99 kg).

In the mountainous regions of the khanate of Bukhara numerous different bātmans were noted.



E. A. Davidovich, Istoriya monetnogo dela Sredneĭ Azii XVII-XVIII vv., Dushanbe, 1964, pp. 293-317.

Idem, Materialy po metrologii srednevekovoĭ Sredneĭ Azii, Moscow, 1970 (published with the Russian translation of W. Hinz, Islamische Masse und Gewichte: Musul’manskie mery i vesa s perevodom v metricheskuyu sistemu), pp. 85-94.

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(Yu. Bregel)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 8, pp. 869-870