The Hmong, Opium and the HAW. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย Terry B. Grandstaff   

GRANSTAFF, TERRY B. THE HMONG, OPIUM AND THE HAW : SPECULATIONS ON THE ORIGIN OF THEIR ASSOCIATION. JSS. VOL.67 (pt.2) 1979. p.70-79.

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                                                   THE HMONG, OPIUM AND THE HAW:
                               SPECULATIONS ON THE ORIGIN OF THEIR ASSOCIATION

                                                                                   by

                                                                    Terry B. Grandstaff*

 

The importance of opium as a cash crop among the Hmong1 in north Thailand  is  widely
known and has been studied in detail.2 The association between the Hmong and Yunnanese
"Haw" traders, through  whom  the  Hmong  have  traditionally  marketed  opium,  is  also  well
known. It is a common  misconception, however, that  opium  plays  a  central  role  in Hmong
culture. It has, for example, apparently little or no role  in  Hmong  ritual,  unlike  rice,  which  is
central to Hmong society and  culture. Rice,  more  than  opium, has  been  by  far  their  most
important crop,3 although recently many Hmong have been  forced  to  give  up  the  cultivation
of swidden rice due to land shortage, scarcity  of  mature forest, and  labor  conflicts  involving
opium. The prevalence of opium-growing among the  Hmong  in  north  Thailand  makes  it  a
question of some interest as to how the growing of  opium  as  a  cash  crop may have arisen
among the Hmong and what part the Haw may have played in this process.

The Hmong are primary-forest swiddeners in the sense that they prefer  to  farm primary
forest, will go to great lengths to find it, are organized to exploit it, use primary-forest cropping
patterns (involving migration and farming the same fields several years in a row), and have a
lore connected with the use of primary  forest  and the  felling  of  big trees. There is, however,
very little primary forest remaining  in  Thailand today that the Hmong can use, and the effects
of this on Hmong society are considerable.4 The majority  of Hmong  in  Thailand  also  grow
opium   as   a  cash  crop  in  addition   to  swiddening  rice. The relative proportion  of  opium
grown with respect to rice has significantly increased over the years.5

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* Behavioral   Science   Advisor,  U.S. Agency  for  International   Development,  Bangkok,  Thailand.  This
article  was  written  while  the  author  was  a  Fellow with the Resource Systems Institute, East-West Center,
Honolulu, and  was  extracted  and  modified  from  the  author's  Ph.D. dissertation  "Swidden  society in north
Thailand: a diachronic perspective emphasizing resource relationships", presented in 1976  to  the  Department
of Anthropology, University of  Hawaii. The  author  wishes  to   acknowledge  the  support  of  the  East-West
Center and the co-operation of the Tribal Research Center at Chiang Mai, Thailand.

1. "Hmong" is the term by which the group generally refers to itself. The term "Meo" is used  in Thailand,
and while not pejorative, has been objected to by Hmong in Laos, and on occasion by some Hmong in Thailand.

2. E.g.  William  R.  Geddes, "Opium  and  the  Miao: a  study   in   ecologica l  adjustment",  Oceania,  41,
1 (1970), pp. 1-11; William R. Geddes, Migrants of the Mountains — The  Cultural  Ecology  of  the  Blue  Miao
(Hmong Njua) of Thailand
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976).

3. Hugo Adlof Bernatzik, Akha and Meo, Problems of Applied Ethnology in the Indo-Chinese Peninsula,

2 vols. (Innsbruck, Austria: Commission Press, Wagnerian  University  Printing  Shop, 1947), p. 357.  Translated
from the German by the U.S. Army. Copies are available at the Tribal  Research  Centre,  Chiang  Mai,  and   the
Thailand  Information  Centre, Chulalongkorn   University,  Bangkok;  Frank  M.  LeBar  et  al,  Ethnic  Groups  of
Mainland Southeast Asia
(New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1964), p. 78; George A. Binney, The
Social and Economic Organization of Two White Meo Communities  in  Northern  Thailand
  (Washington, D.C. :

Advanced Research Projects Agency Publication APP-T10, 1968), p. 519.

             4. F.G.B. Keen, Upland Tenure and Land Use in North Thailand (Bangkok : SEATO, 1972) : Terry B. Grand-

 staff, op. Cit.

             5. Ibid.

                                  

 

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The Hmong have arrived in Thailand relatively  recently.  Geddes6  thinks  it  safe  to  say
that all Hmong have come to Thailand within the past 100 years. Some have come by way of
Burma, some by way of Laos, their rapid migrations having brought them to  Southeast  Asia
from southern China. Binney7 guesses that all Hmong  migrations  into  Southeat  Asia  from
southern China have taken place in the last 50 to 100 years, and thinks it a reasonable estimate
that they arrived in Chiang Mai Province only in the  last  40  to  50  years. Although  there  are
records of a few Hmong villages in remote areas of Thailand around the turn of the  century,8
Hmong first began arriving in substantial numbers several decades later, the first village in Mae
Rim District in central Chiang Mai Province, for example, having been founded around 1944.

While Geddes argues that Hmong swiddening  and  migration  patterns  are  intimately
connected with the growing of opium as a cash crop, he admits that Hmong "were prone  to
migrate long before opium entered the picture".9 The Miao-fang pei-lan, written in 1820, does
not mention poppy cultivation but it does suggest that Hmong were swiddening  in   primary-
forest manner:10

Having cultivated fo r three  or  four  years,  they  relinquish  the  old  land  and  exploit  new  places
because the land becomes poor after intensive cultivation . . .

Bernatzik11 gives an even clearer description of movement occasioned by swiddening rice in
primary-forest manner.

How  then  did  the  Hmong  become  involved  in  opium  production? The  quest begins,
oddly enough, with British involvement in the opium trade with China.

 

         Put simply, the East India Company was interested  in  expanding  trade  with  China, but
China was less interested in buying anything the British had  to  offer.  Thus  increasing  trade
between British India and China meant  the  drain  of  silver  and  other  specie  from  India  to
China,  creating  a  trade  deficit.  Something  had  to  be  found  that  the  Chinese  would  buy;
if it was produced in India, so much the better, as the Company could then  finance  itself  and
transportation routes would be shortened. The  product  found was opium, and by 1767 1,000
chests a year were being shipped to China from India.12 The importation of opium into China
was forbidden, however, and the Company had proven rather inept at smuggling, so  by 1782,
the  trade  was  totally  in  the  hands of  the "country" ships of  private   entrepreneurs, but  the
Company itself retained the monopoly of all opium sales to  these  entrepreneurs. The mono-
polization of sales in India and the lack of direct involvement in shipping and opium  sales  in
China was to  be  in  general  the  characteristic  pattern  for  the Company until the cessation
of the opium trade in the early  twentieth  century. In  his  thorough  account, Owen  traces  the
complicated situations which involved the British in progressively greater production of opium
for the China trade. In the period 1811-1821 the average annual shipment was 4,532 chests,

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                               6.  Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 29.
                               7.  Binney, op. cit., p. 2.
                               8.  W.A. Graham, Siam (London: A. Moring, 1924), p. 137.
                               9.  Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 252.
                              10. Ibid., pp. 32-33.
                              11. Bernatzik, opcit., p. 259.

                    12. David Edward Owen, British Opium Policy in China and India (Hamden, Conn: Shoe String Press,

1968), p. 52. References to the account in the  rest  of  this  paragraph may be found in pp. 52-115.
13. One chest equals approximately 50 kilograms.

 

 

 

 

 

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but for the period 1829-1839 it had grown to  25,387  chests.  By  the  1830s  the  fast  opium
clippers were appearing in number and the trade continued to grow. In fiscal year 1838/39, a
total of 40,200 chests were shipped to China.13

The Chinese government in the meantime had been trying unsuccessfully to stem the opium
inflow. Since 1799 a series of edicts had been issued specifically prohibiting foreigners from
importing opium, but the edicts  were  unenforceable  because local  officials  were  profiting
from opium imports.14 In 1839 Commissioner  Lin was dispatched  to  Canton  with  extraor-
dinary powers to end the opium trade. The  "Opium  War"  followed;  ending  in  the Treaty  of
Nanking in 1842. The Treaty did not legalize the import of opium; indeed the subject was not
even mentioned,15 but  the  trade  continued.  Since  its  import  could  not   be  curtailed,  the
Chinese imperial government was faced with two options, which began to be discussed   in
earnest in the mid-1850s. It could legalize the import of opium and tax its import as  well   as
its sale. By so doing the trade could help to provide needed revenue for the  Manchu  coffers.
Alternatively, the government could legalize the growing of opium in China and stimulate the
internal  market  to  the  extent  that  British  opium  competition  would  be  driven out  of  the
market. With  the  latter  option,  opium-growing  could   then  be  curtailed, once  the  foreign
trade had been disposed of.

The strategy adopted was in effect a combination of the two. The  import  of  opium  was
legalized in 1858. By the 1860s internal opium production was distinctly on the increase,and
by 1885 China was producing at least twice as much opium as was  being  imported. By  the
1890s British opium imports had "declined perceptibly". British India  might  have  chosen  to
fight it out with the competing Chinese internal market,  but  public  opinion  in  England  was
becoming much more forcefully opposed to the trade.  Finally,  Britain  agreed  to  phase  out
the trade if the Chinese would phase out  internal  production. The  trade  was  eliminated  in
the second decade of the twentieth century, but, despite serious efforts, China was unable to
keep her part of the bargain. Opium  revenues  were  needed by  various  factions  at  various
times, and it was not until the People's  Republic  came  into  being that the industry could be
eradicated in China.

How do the Hmong fit into this sorry account? To find out, we will need to take a closer
look at internal production of opium in China which was outlined in  the  above  paragraphs.
Even before the Chinese imperial government decided on a policy of internal production  to
compete with British opium imports, the expanded market  conditions  had  stimulated  the
(illicit) growing of opium in southern China.

Opium had, of course, been known throughout the Eastern world long before the coming
of the British. It was probably brought to the Orient  from  the Middle  East  early   in  the  first
millenium A.D. The trade in opium was widespread, but  it  is China that most concerns  us

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                            13. Hosea Ballou Morse, The International Relations of the  Chinese  Empire, vol. 1,  The  Period  of  Conflict
                   1834-60 (London: Longmans, 1910), p. 210.
                            14. Owen, op. cit., pp. 64-66; Arthur Waley, The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes (London: George Allen
                   and Unwin, 1958), pp. 53-59.
                            15. Owen, op. cit., p. 206. References to the account in the rest of this and  the following  paragraph  may
                   be found in pp. 220-353.

 

 

 

 

 

73                                                                    Terry B. Grandstaff

 

here. It was apparently Arab traders who brought to China  both  Islam  and  opium.  The  Arabs
may have had a trading post in Canton as early as 300 A.D.16 A mid-fourteenth century account
describes the use of the drug and states that "opium is produced in Arabia  from  a  poppy  with
a red flower".17 The author of this statement had been the governor  of  Kansu  Province  where
a large Mohammedan population lived. Other accounts of the same era refer to opium  as"a-fu-
yung, a  term  plainly  derived  from  the  Arabic  afyun".18 Owen  concludes  that  the  supply  of
opium from abroad was interrupted by Japanese raiding, from which time  it  has  been  grown
in China, something over four centuries ago.

Early production of opium must have been  relatively  small,  however,  since  the  drug  was
taken mostly for  medicinal  purposes,  until  the  introduction  of  tobacco  by  Westerners  in  the
seventeenth   century.19  Opium   was   subsequently   mixed  with  to  bacco  and  smoked;  later
opium alone was smoked, the way having been found to make it smokeable. The use  of  opium
was not by then widespread, however, and the imperial government as early as 1729 was taking
steps to insure that its use was curbed.20 Owen21 concludes from accounts available that  "until
well along in the eighteenth century and probably later, the  smoking  of  opium  was  a  localized
phenomenon and was not regarded as a critical  problem  in Peking". It is  likely  that  there  was
some  expansion  in  opium  production  in  China  in  the  eighteenth  century; but  whatever  the
case, it seems that the Hmong were  not  involved  in  commercial  production  of  the  drug  until
at least after the 1820 account of Hmong agriculture cited above.

British opium imports to China in the early nineteenth century must have stimulated the
production of locally grown opium. Since it  is  addictive , of  course,  once  the  drug  is  intro-
duced, increasing demand for it tends to stimulate  the  market. By  the  mid - 1830s,  opium
production in Yunnan was already up to a  reported  "several  thousand  chests  annually".22
Still, this was but a drop in  the  bucket  compared  to  British  imports  of  the  period,  and  it
is unlikely that hilltribes were much involved at  this  stage  in  the  production. By  the 1880s,
however, Yunnanese opium production had grown stupendously.23 Yunnan was not the only
province producing opium by this time.  Production  of  opium  was  widespread  throughout
China, but the southwestern provinces were particularly suited for  its  production, since  the
opium could be grown on the hillsides of a relatively sparsely settled area where its  produc-
tion would interfere less with the production of rice in the valleys.

Sometimes in the mid-nineteenth  century,  then,  it  seems  likely  that  Hmong  living  in

              southern  China  would  have  had  to  become  aware  of  opium  production. By far the major
              portion of opium would have been grown by the Chinese, but production was becoming such an
              incredibly large industry that the  tribal  groups in the area could not have failed to  have  been

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         16.  Ibid., p. 1.

         17. Ibid., p. 13.

         18. Ibid ., p. 14.

         19. Geddes, op. cit. (1976), pp. 201-202.

         20. Ibid.

         21. Owen, op cit., p. 17.

         22. Ibid., p. 128 f.

         23. Ibid., p. 226.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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affected by it. At this time  Hmong  were  living  in  numbers  in  Kweichow  and  were  also  in
Yunnan, two  of  the  provinces  most  involved  in  opium  production.  Prior  to  this  time  it  is
possible that Hmong and other hilltribes in southern China may have grown opium for use as
a local medicine and small item of  trade. Geddes24 is of  the  opinion  that  Hmong  probably
began to grow opium relatively  early, but that the opium boom of the  late  nineteenth  century
and its suppression in the early twentieth century "must have  increased the incentive to grow
it in these (mountain) areas, which were least accessible to surveillance".

If the Hmong did grow opium before the mid-nineteenth century,  it  seems  likely  that  it
was not an important item in their economy, as  the 1820 report above tends  to  substantiate.
Geddes25 found that one type of poppy, na ying, had been the main type  of  poppy  grown  in
the  past  by  the  Hmong  he  studied. It  is  planted  in  July for harvest in December. Geddes
implies   that   it   may  have  been  the  variety  of  poppy  mainly  cultivated  by  the  Hmong  in
Thailand earlier in the  twentieth  century,  planted  in  June  and  observed  by  Bernatzik. In  a
primary-forest swidden regime, the relatively light weeding requirements would allow for t his
poppy to be cultivated on such a timing schedule, but it would not allow for  its  intensive  culti-
vation, unless it were at the expense of rice, the principal subsistence crop. Under secondary-
forest conditions,  the  two  would  be  in  direct  conflict  and  it  is  undoubtedly  partly  for  this
reason that Hmong do not now cultivate much of this variety.

Trade between swiddeners and lowland society is more likely to prosper when each  has
something the other wants and cannot easily get. This would probably not  have been  true  of
opium prior to the mid-nineteenth century. Even in the opium boom period from, let us say, the
1860s onward, these conditions would not apply since it was the Chinese themselves in southern
China  who  were  profiting  from  growing  opium. However, in  boom  times a market can take
on all suppliers, and it seems likely that  at  this time and for this reason, the Hmong and other
hilltribes of southern China  entered   the  opium  market. As  opium  went  through  periods  of
suppression in the early twentieth century (through to the  present),  hilltribe  production  would
then be favored over  other  types, due  to  its  isolation  from  lowland  authority. In  the  second
decade of the twentieth century, for example, the Chinese government  attempted  to suppress
the growing of opium as Britain was  curtailing  its opium  shipments from India. Reports  from
Yunnan indicated that Chinese growing of opium was indeed being suppressed, but that hilltribe
production, particularly in southern border areas, was booming.26 As Geddes27 points out, the
demand from the addict population still existed and the tribal areas were much more difficult to
police.

         In the early twentieth century, at various times various hilltribe groups in  southern  China

were forced by local warlords to supply them with opium.28 This  was  a  consequence  of  the

                    hilltribe group having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but sustained connections to

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         24. Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 204.

          25. Ibid., pp. 160-161.

          26. China no. 2, Reports from His Majesty's Minister at Peking Respecting the Opium Question in China

 (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1913), pp. 2-3.

          27. Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 204.

          28. Ibid

 

 

 

 

 

 

75                                                                Terry B. Grandstaff

 

the trade, such as the Hmong exhibit, were likely to have developed in a different way. Primary-
forest swiddeners must move to follow  primary  forest. Such  movements  can  be  expensive.
Trade connections, then, must be able to handle this movement; special arrangements  may
be necessary. It seems likely that it is the nature of these special arrangements that have allowed
the Hmong to continue to be the primary-forest swiddeners extraordinaire of Southeast  Asia,
even up to the present time, because of the cultivation and efficient marketing  of  opium. The
involvement with opium and thus the development of this strategy was a consequence of the
opium boom in China which had occurred in response to British opium  policies. But  it  was
also a result of a rather sophisticated "symbiosis" between the Hmong and the Yunnanese Haw
traders. What then were the origins and nature of this involvement?

At the end of the Chinese civil war which brought the present-day government to power,
some Yunnanese as well as others, such as remnants of the Kuomintang armies, came overland
to north Thailand. Over the years, the Shan-north Thai term "Haw" has been loosely used to
refer to these people. Perhaps, even in earlier times, the term Haw once referred to Yunnanese
in general, or particularly, those Yunnanese traders with whom the Shan  and  north  Thai  were
familiar. In fact, however, the vast majority of  these traders were not  just  Yunnanese,  they
were Yunnanese Muslims, whom the Burmese  have called "Panthay".  Anderson29 relates
an early reference to them:

Colonel Burney tells us that in 1831 almost the whole of the Chinese traders who visited the Bur-
mese capital were Mahommedans [sic], except a few who imported hams. Some of them  could
speak a little Arabic, and one read to him passages from the Koran; but none of them  could  tell
him whence they derived their origin.

Another reference30 states that "the Hos, or Panthays. .. are Muhammadans from Tali...
in western Yunnan".

It seems that the Yunnanese Muslims occupied  much  the  same "economic niche" in
Yunnan as the Chinese do today in Thailand. As  a  special-interest  group  they   were  able
to monopolize various types of trade. In the cities they  were  the  principal  traders and shop-
keepers. Very few engaged in agriculture.31 Anderson, who visited  Yunnan  in  1868  during
the Great Panthay Rebellion, reports that they were wealthy but that they were excluded from
the  "official  class" of  Mandarins.32  Anderson  reports,  and   Broomhall  agrees  with   him,
that jealousy and ill-feeling toward the Muslims by officials and others provoked a  series  of
riots against the Muslims in the mid-1850s which then occasioned a Muslim rebellion.

In act, conflict between the Muslims and the imperial authorities had been flaring on and

               off since at least the early 1800s. A war had occurred in 1818-1819 in Yungchang and Yunnanfu,
               a minor rebellion during 1826-1828, and a serious rebellion, including a  massacre  of  some
               1,600 "Moslem  men, women, and  children  at  Mienting" had occurred  in  the  period  1834-
               1840.33 It was generally the policy of the imperial government to deal with such rebellions in its

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                     29. John Anderson, Mandalay to Momien: A Narrative of the Two Expeditions  to  Western  China  of  1868
                    and 1815
(London : Macmillan and Co., 1876), p. 231.

                     30. Eric Seidenfaden, The Thai Peoples (Bangkok: The Siam Society, 1967), p. 124.

                      31. Marshall Broomhall, Islam in China—A Neglected Problem (London: Morgan and Scott, 1910), p. 224.

                      32. Anderson, op. cit., p. 233.

                      33. Broomhall, op. cit., p. 129.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 THE HMONG, OPIUM AND THE HAW                                                   76

 

border areas by offering  favorable  terms  to some or all of the opposing commanders in order
to save the cost  of  having  to garrison a  large  standing  army  to  control  the  dissenters. The
opposition was aware of these options and often sued for peace. Thus the Muslim  position  in
Yunnan had not suffered as much as it might have. The greatest upheaval of them all, however,
the war of 1855-1873, was to end somewhat differently.

The Great Panthay Rebellion was a long and complex war. Muslim successes in this period
had far exceeded their previous successes, in part because the imperial government was busy
elsewhere, with the Taiping Rebellion for example.  At  one  point  nearly  the  whole  of  Yunnan
was in the hands of the rebels. In eastern Yunnan, a  Muslim  leader  sued  for  peace  with  the
Chinese government and was made a principal military  commander.34 But  in  the  west  resis-
tance   continued,  with   the  capital   of  the  new  "Muslim  State"  at  Talifu  ruled  by  a  Muslim
"Sultan".

At the time when the Muslims held western  Yunnan, a  British  expedition  set  out   from
Bhamo in 1868 to explore overland trade routes to China. Anderson,who accompanied the ex-
pedition, records the affection that developed between the British and the  Muslim  authorities
who welcomed the British and encouraged the development of overland trade with them.

There is some evidence that this expedition, the Sladen  expedition,  directly  or  indirectly
encouraged the Muslims to hold out against the imperial government in the  hope that  Britain
would assist them. Anderson himself implies that the friendly relations enjoyed  between  the
rebels and the expedition may have been the cause of the massive imperial mobilization that
finally crushed the Muslims in western Yunnan.35 Broomhall36 comments :

Those who know the province intimately state that there is little doubt that the real or  supposed
sympathy shown to the Mohammedan Pretender by the British and others during this rebellion is
responsible for much of the ill-will subsequently manifested towards foreigners by the  Chinese
authorities of the province.

What were British intentions in Yunnan? Sladen's  diaries  reveal  that  he  had  at  least
told rebel Sultan that there was a possibility of British assistance in reconciling the Sultan's posi-
tion with the government in Peking.37 Fytche, the Chief Commissioner of British Burma at the
time, was interested in the Yunnan trade routes apparently because he was afraid  American
interference might upset British opium shipments to China and an alternate  route  might   be
necessary. The French, however, were also interested in Yunnan. Indeed, they  had  a   better
trade route via the Red River valley. British willingness to deal with the rebels may have  been
prompted by desire to establish trade relations  before  the  French  could. As  for   the  actual
emissary, Sladen himself, Fytche was of the opinion that he was thoroughly pro-rebel.

In 1871 the rebel Sultan sent his son on an expedition to Burma and on to England to try

               to get help, military or otherwise, for the Muslims.38 In fact, the Sultan was offering to  place

__________________________________________________________________________________________

                             34. Ibid., pp. 135-136.

                              35. Anderson, op. cit., p. 338.

                              36. Broomhall, op. cit., p. 140.

                             37. S.T. Wang, The Margary Affair and the Cheefoo Agreement (London: Oxford University Press, 1940);
                   this reference and others in the remainder of the paragraph may be found in pp. 29 ff.

                             38. Anderson, op. cit., p. 340; Wang, op. cit., p. 32.

 

 

 

 

 

77                                                              Terry B. Grandstaff

 

his kingdom under British authority: a "formal expression of his desire to become feudatory  to
the British Crown".39 Britain itself, however, was not prepared to back  the  Sultan  and  jeopar-
dize relations with the Chinese empire. The Chinese, for their part, were  adamant  about  con-
fining foreign trading to the Treaty Ports, and there does seem good reason to believe that the
severity with which they treated the rebels was occasioned by  their fears  of British  meddling
in borderland areas. The rebels were, in fact, buying firearms from British Burma.40

By the time the Sultan's son returned  to  Burma, Talifu  was  surrounded. He  was  not  to
see his native land again. In Yunnan, the slaughter was enormous. In Talifu alone, thousands
were massacred after the city had surrendered in 1872.41

After 1874, peace came to ravaged Yunnan, but it was not a  peace that many Yunnanese
Muslims would be able to enjoy. Those Muslims still living were  not  allowed  to  open  shops,
their goods were confiscated, and in some areas they were not even allowed to live within the
cities.42 Broomhall says that "this policy had been on  the  whole  the  general  rule  up  to  the
present time" (1910).43 The opium  boom  that  was  to  hit  Yunnan  in  the  1880s was  not  to
favor many of the Muslims.

Those rebel Muslims who escaped the slaughter fled to the hills and across the borders into
Burma and Laos. Quoting Davies, Broomhall relates:44

Sometimes one finds Mohammedan colonies in very out-of-the-way places, probably men who have
taken refuge there after the suppression of the rebellion; and even  in  the  Shan  States, within  Bri-
tish territory, there are two or three Panthay settlements.

Anderson45 says that the remaining rebels "had become dacoits". Apparently large numbers
of them also fled to Tonkin and northern Laos, where for a time they attempted to monopolize
an area and had a great reputation for ferocity.46

       It was probably at this time that the rebel Yunnanese Muslims, the Haw, began  sustained

 relations with the Hmong. Tribal groups had fought on both sides of the Yunnanese war,47 but

 particularly on the Muslim side.48 It is likely that the  Muslim  rebels  were   in   alliance   with

 at least some groups of Hmong, and in fact that the Hmong hilltribes in general had sided with

 the rebels or at least against the imperial government. The period 1855-1881 is said  to  have

 been one of  general  Hmong  uprising  against  the  imperial  authorities  not only  in  Yunnan

 but  in  Kweichow  and  other  provinces  as  well.49 When  Margary  passed  through  Yunnan

 in 1875 he found large, devastated areas where the Hmong had come"down from the hills and

 butchered the whole population."50

________________________________________________________________________________

                             39. Broomhall, op. cit., pp. 140, 285.

                             40. Wang, op. cit., p. 32.

                             41. Anderson, op. cit., p. 342; Broomhall, op. cit., pp. 141-144.

                             42. Broomhall, op. cit., pp. 144, 162.

                             43. Ibid.

                             44. Ibid., p. 208.

                             45. Anderson, op. cit., p. 344.

                             46. J. M'Carthy, "Siam", Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, March 1888, pp. 124-227.

                             47. Anderson, op. cit., pp. 233-234.

                             48. Broomhall, op. cit., p. 132.

                             49. Bernatzik, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

                             50. Anderson, op. cit., pp. 365-366.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                           THE HMONG, OPIUM AND THE HAW                                                 78

 

McCarthy's 1888 account of a trip through Laos placed Hmong and Haw as recent arrivals
in the same area at the same time, and mentioned that the Hmong were cultivating opium as a
principal crop.51 Listening to M'Carthy present his paper, Colquhoun commented:52

The Haws, who were really freebooters, the Black Flags ... .were in reality the riffraff who had been
driven over the Chinese borderland  to  the  western  side  of  Tonquin,  and  who  were  now  being
forced step by step down to Luang Phrabang.

It is likely that those Hmong who had fought on the Muslim side also found it safer to move
out of Yunnan at the close of the war. If the imperial army commanders were willing to sanc-
tion the massacre of urban populations it is doubtful they  would  have  hesitated  to  do  the
same to rebel hilltribes. Fear of reprisal continues to this day to be a prime reason for swift
migration in Southeast Asia. Many thousands of Hmong now languish in refugee camps in
Thailand, having recently fled from Laos. The Hmong of the 1870s, however, had other options.

Broomhall53 characterized the Yunnanese Muslim as being "a keen businessman, and very
persevering in trade". But after the early 1870s he was a trader who was banished from  the
entrepots of Yunnan. The market for opium was booming, the Hmong could grow it  in  their
swiddens. The Haw could move with the Hmong  and  market  their  opium for  them. Some
of the Haw traders thus found a new clientele. Those who could successfully make a  stake
at this trade might then move to some Southeast Asian city, open a little restaurant or some
other modest venture, and retire comfortably. This is  a  characteristic  pattern  for   the  Haw
trader to this day. The pattern having been developed continues  to  offer  opportunity  to  the
overland Chinese refugee, whether Muslim or not.

For their part, the Hmong benefited significantly from growing opium  for  the  Haw  traders.
Indeed it financed  their  migrations  and  pioneering  efforts  in  new  areas.54  In  pursuing  the
primary-forest swidden pattern, the  Hmong  depended  on  the  availability  of  suitable, mature
forest. When such forest had been farmed in one area, it was necessary to move to a new area
perhaps returning to an old area decades later when the  forest  regenerated  or  moving  on  to
still other areas. Such moves, particularly the long ones, were  expensive. Houses  might  have
to be abandoned and sometimes transport purchased. Rice would have to be  purchased  if  it
could not be transported or if rice  swiddens  in  the new  area  were  not  soon  productive. The
easily transportable opium was an ideal source of cash in such situations, and the  Haw  trade
could be helpful not  only  in  accomplishing  the  market   transactions  but  also  in  helping  in
locating and moving to the new swidden areas. As mature forest  areas  became  increasingly
smaller, the movements became more frequent and  opium  was  even  more  needed . Today
the entire Hmong migration system is grinding to a  halt in  Thailand. Due  to  population  pres-
sure in the northern highlands, few if  any  suitable  unoccupied  sites  are  left for  the  primary-
forest swiddeners to move to.

                       If the above historical speculations are substantially correct about the origins of the Hmong-
               opium-Haw association, it would seem there is little reason to agree with the popularly held

___________________________________________________________________________

                              51. M'Carthy, op. cit, p. 125.

                              52. Ibid., p. 131.

                              53. Broomhall, op. cit., p. 224.

                              54. Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 124.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

79                                                                 Terry B. Grandstaff

 

belief that hilltribes and opium  have  been  fellow-travelers  since  time  immemorial. It  seems
likely that the initial Hmong-Haw association may have helped to make the  Hmong  particular-
ly successful among the primary-forest swiddeners, but that the others also may have adopted
opium as a cash crop  for similar  reasons  connected  with  migration  and  the  primary-forest
swidden pattern, at about the  same  time. Bradley  believes  that "the  Lahu,  along  with  many
other mountain groups, began to  cultivate  opium  as  their  main  cash  crop  about  a  century
ago"55 as a result of the high prices created by the British trade. Dessaint also agrees:56

The historical evidence... suggests that [the Lisu] have grown opium on a commercial scale for only
slightly longer than a century.

One of the Hmong myths states that their opium came originally from a place called Eng-

               land.57 Perhaps the story comes fairly close to the truth of the matter for the opium-growing
               highlanders of Southeast Asia.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

         55. David Bradley, "Lahu dialects and Proto-Ioloish", Ph.D.  dissertation,  London  University,  1975, pp.

 15-16.

          56. Alain Yvon Dessaint, "Economic organization of the Lisu of the Thai highlands", Ph. D. dissertation,

 Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii, 1972, p. 11.

 Geddes, op. cit. (1976), p. 211.





 


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