[Sca-cooks] Kail

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Tue Nov 25 11:30:14 PST 2008

> Bear wrote:
>> Al kail or al kayl means, in general, "standard measure."  You need the 
>> context for the precise meaning.  In trade, it is a standard measure of 
>> grain (also "kaila)"used in the levying of taxes.  Under Ghengis Khan, 
>> the kail was roughly 8.87 kg.  Under the Turks, it was roughly 35 liters. 
>> However, I suspect your usage is "dirham al-kayl" which varies by 
>> location and time, but is likely to be 50.4 grains.  11 1/9 dirham 
>> al-kayl = 1 uqiyah = 1/12  rotl.  "Alqueire" is an Iberian corruption of 
>> the Islamic "al-kayl" and is used in some Spanish and Portuguese speaking 
>> cultures as as a large volume dry measure and/or a measure of land.
> while Charles Perry wrote: 1 kail can equal from 6.5 liters to 22 liters. 
> The word literally means "a measure." In "Weights and Measures" he 
> explains that during the 13^th C in Al-Andalus 1 ratl equaled 468.75 gr, 
> about one pound and that one uqiya equaled 39 grams, about 1 1/3 ounces or 
> 7 teaspoons.
> Now I am totally confused. Sounds simpler to me if we translate kail as "a 
> measure" and let the jefe make up one to suit himself.
> Suey

To quote E.J. Brill (or possibly M. Th. Houtsma), "kail is the most general 
term for measure.  The word next has the special meaning of measure for dry 
goods such as grain and cereals of all kinds and finally (like kaila) means 
contents (or weight of the contents) of a definite measure of capacity."

The Weights and Measures information Perry is giving is of the "kail 
al-dirham" or the dirham kail which is a measure of weight equal to a silver 
dirham (drachma).   Roughtly, 1 Roman pound = 1 ratl (rotl) = 12 uqiya 
(ounce) = 120 dirham (IIRC).

The note about 1 kail = 6.5 to 22 liters is probably the "kail al-dimus," 
the grain measure used for taxtion and in commerce.  From other sources I've 
seen a measure of 6 mudd (roughly 7 liters) for kail and a measure of 2 mudd 
for kaila.  The actual measures changed over time as various rulers reset 
the standards.

In Perry's defence, if the text doesn't provide the modifier which tells 
what measure is meant, you need to make a best guess.  In this case, kail 
al-dirham for cooking.

Should anyone be interested, the general source in my notes is, Houtsma, M. 
Th., "E.J. Brill's First Encyclopedia of Islam 1913-1936."

For a reference on Andalusian Arabic, the interested might wish to check 
out, Corriente, Frederico, "A Dictionary of Adalusi Arabic."


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