The History of the Hmong
The history, language and culture of the Hmong people are commonly misunderstood and underrepresented in East, Southeast Asia and the Western World. People often wonder, “What is Hmong? Where do they come from? Who are they?”, but do not realize how significant and important the Hmong people are to the history of East Asia and Southeast Asia.
The Yellow River:
Hmong history began in the Yellow River, one of the original founders of the Yellow River civilizations in the central plains of China, making Hmong ethnically closer to Northern Chinese, than the Southeast Asian. Therefore, the Hmong people are ethnically and linguistically East Asian.
In fact the Hmong were one of the very first to use iron, making them expert metal workers for farming and weapons, making them a very powerful civilization.
With many spars with the neighboring warring Han, the Hmong began to become exhausted from the battles, and began to migrate southward from the wars, and into the Yangtze river, where they were one of the first to cultivate rice. Some still to this day remain in the central plains of China.
With the success of the Han, they began to establish their dynastic empires of the Qin and Han Dynasty, and began an eventual conquest in the north, east, south and west, starting the term, “Middle Kingdom” and the belief that all outsiders are “barbarian”.
Many of the ancient Hmong and other native Southern Native Chinese cultures became sinocized under Chinese rule under the “Cooked & Raw” campaign to assimilate them into Chinese culture in today’s central China provinces.
To ensure the division of the Hmong, the Northern Han Chinese began to build a Southern Great Wall in the southern provinces to both keep them out of Chinese “territory” and to split them from uniting. This resulted in Western, Central and Eastern Hmong language groups.
Then by giving different groups uniforms of Red, Yellow, Blue/Green, White, Black and Flower. This resulted in the change of their traditional costumes and dialect to one another.
And finally, 18 different Chinese surnames, to further differentiate the Hmong as a uniting force, that is still used today.
Only a very few would flee the invasion of the Northern Han conquest, and retained their ethnic cultures till this day.
The Hmong would have found multiple dynasties that would integrate between Western Han, Western Jin, Southern Song and so on over the courses of history.
Ming & Qing Dynasty 1600’s-1800’s
The Hmong people would simply “disappear” from historical records for almost over 1,000 years, with the probable result of assimilating into Chinese culture.
However, they returned back during the Ming Dynasty, and this time, rebelling against the Ming empire rule. The Ming Dynasty at that time were already dealing with the warring North of the Manchurians, the Koreans and the Ming Emperor’s interest of colonizing Japan.
By the Qing Dynasty and Manchurian rule, came a great militarization of China under a heavy rule among all Han Chinese and other ethnics.
The Hmong, alongside Han Chinese and native Southern Chinese would continue to rebel against the Qing Empire to reclaim back their lost territory. It would result in millions of death and massacre.
The Hmong were expert and fearsome warriors, with hundreds of years of experience with the Chinese invasion, their culture started to become militaristic, with the belief of soldiers as the highest honor. Chinese records have record their soldiers as carrying 2 swords and another knife between their teeth. Even Chinese generals would bow to Chiyou, a Hmong ancestor seen as a God of War for luck in their battles.
By the earliest 18th century, the Hmong began to migrate into northern Indochina of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma.
During the Vietnam War, thousands would have sided with the Americans, Laotian Royal Army and South Vietnamese to fight the communist.
Today there are more than 12 million Hmong people in the world. 9 million in China, making them the 5th largest ethnic population in China and 4 million in Southeast Asia and the Western World.
- 12 Million Hmong
- 6.5 Million Tibetans
- 3.6 Million Laotians
The Hmong contributed to metal working in early China, rice cultivation, making them the “Rice Bowl” of China and ensured geographical location of China, the Indochina peninsula and the establishment of Northeast Laos and Northwest Vietnam.
The Hmong did have their own kingdoms, empires and dynasties, but continued to fall into Chinese expansion and assimilation in the 16th and 18th century, which has very much happened to the nation of Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, Xinjiang by the 18th century and today.