SEEMUL, SIMMUL, &c. (sometimes we have seen Symbol, and Cymbal), s. Hind. semal and sembhal; [Skt. salmali]. The (so-called) cotton-tree Bombax Malabaricum, D.C. (N.O. Malvaceae), which occurs sporadically from Malabar to Sylhet, and from Burma to the Indus and beyond. It is often cultivated. “About March it is a striking object with its immense buttressed trunks, and its large showy red flowers, 6 inches in breadth, clustered on the leafless branches. The flower-buds are used as a potherb and the gum as a medicine” (Punjab Plants). We remember to have seen a giant of this species near Kishnagarh, the buttresses of which formed chambers, 12 or 13 feet long and 7 or 8 wide. The silky cotton is only used for stuffing pillows and the like. The wood, though wretched in quality for any ordinary purpose, lasts under water, and is commonly the material for the curbs on which wells are built and sunk in Upper India.

[c. 1807.—“… the Salmoli, or Simul … is one of the most gaudy ornaments of the forest or village. …”—Buchanan Hamilton, E. India, ii. 789.]

SEER, s. Hind. ser; Skt. setak. One of the most generally spread Indian denominations of weight, though, like all Indian measures, varying widely in different parts of the country. And besides the variations of local ser and ser we often find in the same locality a pakka (pucka) and a kachchha (cutcha) ser; a state of things, however, which is human, and not Indian only (see under PUCKA). The ser is generally (at least in upper India) equivalent to 80 tolas or rupee-weights; but even this is far from universally true. The heaviest ser in the Useful Tables (see Thomas’s ed. of Prinsep) is that called “Coolpahar,” equivalent to 123 tolas, and weighing 3 lbs. 1 oz. 6¼ dr. avoird.; the lightest is the ser of Malabar and the S. Mahratta country, which is little more than 8 oz. [The Macleod ser of Malabar, introduced in 1802, is of 130 tolas; 10 of these weigh 33 lb. (Madras Man. ii. 516).]

Regulation VII. of the Govt. of India of 1833 is entitled “A Reg. for altering the weight of the Furruckabad Rupee (see RUPEE) and for assimilating it to the legal currency of the Madras and Bombay Presidencies; for adjusting the weight of the Company’s sicca Rupee, and for fixing a standard unit of weight for India.” This is the nearest thing to the establishment of standard weights that existed up to 1870. The preamble says: “It is further convenient to introduce the weight of the Furruckabad Rupee as the unit of a general system of weights for Government transactions throughout India.” And Section IV. contains the following:

“The Tola or Sicca weight to be equal to 180 grains troy, and the other denominations or weights to be derived from this unit, according to the following scale:—

8 Rutties = 1 Masha = 15 troy grains.
12 Mashas = 1 Tola = 180 ditto. 80 Tolas (or sicca weight) = 1 Seer = 2½ lbs. troy. 40 Seers = 1 Mun or Bazar Maund = 100 lbs. troy.”

Section VI. of the same Regulation says:

“The system of weights and measures (?) described in Section IV. is to be adopted at the mints and assay offices of Calcutta and Saugor respectively in the adjustment and verification of all weights for government or public purposes sent thither for examination.”

But this does not go far in establishing a standard unit of weight for India: though the weights detailed in § iv. became established for Government purposes in the Bengal Presidency. The seer of this Regulation was thus 14,400 grains troy—2½ lbs. troy, 2·057 lbs. avoirdupois.
In 1870, in the Government of Lord Mayo, a strong movement was made by able and influential men to introduce the metrical system, and an Act was passed called “The Indian Weights and Measures Act” (Act XI. of 1870) to pave the way for this. The preamble declares it expedient to provide for the ultimate adoption of an uniform system of weights and measures thoughout British India, and the Act prescribes certain standards, with powers to the Local Governments to declare the adoption of these.

Section II. runs:

Standards.—The primary standard of weight shall be called ser, and shall be a weight of metal in the possession of the Government of India, which weight, when weighed in a vacuum, is equal to the weight known in France as the kilogramme des Archives.”

Again, Act XXXI. of 1872, called “The Indian Weights and Measures of Capacity Act,” repeats in substance the same preamble and prescription of standard weight. It is not clear to us what the separate object of this second Act was. But with the death of Lord Mayo the whole scheme fell to the ground. The ser of these Acts would be=2·2 lbs. avoirdupois, or 0·143 of a pound greater than the 80 tola ser. 1554.—“Porto Grande de Bemgala.—‘The maund (mão)

  By PanEris using Melati.

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