These pages are based upon my years of research into the history of South Asia and South East Asia.
Emphasis is upon a primary Tribal peoples that I became aware of during my 1960's military years, namely the "Meo", many of whom today have since prefered to be known by one of their historical identies,
"Hmong". So the following is a generalized history, that also attempts to follow the origin, evolution, migrations and difficulities of the Hmong Tribe.
No attempt was made to exclude other Tribes, as other Tribal groups are mentioned, but due to my years of research focused upon the Tribal people of the Hmong (Meo), I focus this report upon the Hmong because of my knowledge of their name, their peoples and their bold courage.
Who Are The Hmong ?
To 'begin' to understand WHO the Hmong are, we will need to :
( 1. ) explore where the Hmong came from,
( 2. ) take a glimpse at their ancestory experiances,
( 3. ) sample world events occuring during their timeline of existance
( 4. ) explore some examples occurances in lands occupied by the Hmong,
( 5. ) try to understand some situations contributing to their cultural aspects.
( 6. ) and then try to see the world of the Hmong and other Tribal groups that compose the interwoven cultural expressions of South East Asia from the dawn of history untill the present day....., but we need to begin somewhere, so we begin with the path of the Hmong (Hmoob).
NOTE : Frequently asked Questions about the
NOTE : Also, so that their is not any confusion, the Hmong are a seperate Tribal peoples from the
Montagnards (Moi) or Bru or Dao of
Where did the Hmong originally come from ?
There are various colorful Asian folk tales and others worldwide describing the origin , the birth, of mankind and the several thousand year history of the
Hmong (Hmoob), and other Tribal groups, but space here is not sufficient to tell about them all, so I will focus upon the Hmong.
One of the Hmong legends describes life in an ancient time in a land of ice and snow. Some people believe that was Mongolia , ..... and others look for
word simularities or fossils as evidence or rejection.
Meanwhile, others suggest the migratrion of the Hmong started much earlier than Mongolia, in West Asia, traveling north along the Caspian Sea, then east across Siberia, and then south to Mongolia, then in later migrations they moved southward entering the lands of
While in ancient China, others tell of a legend, that long after the Hmong entered China they became a powerful people, who constructed many vast reaching progressive communities and then became the emperors in early
Beijing (Peking) China in the ancient times.
In China (Zhongguo, "the Middle Kingdom"), the Hmong, were known as "Miao" (Meo), also a people who used to call themselves "Hmong", "A-mao", (A Mao), "Mo", "Mor", and "Guoxiong".
The earliest written accounts of the Hmong (Meo) is found in Chinese annals dating to between 403 and 561 CE, when the Chinese record 40 Hmong uprisings against Chinese rule. Defeated Armies likely returned to face the Chinese Generals knowing they would loose their heads if they admitted defeat to jungle farmers, so they assuridly described their losses taken at the hands of 'fierce barbarians'.
The Chinese government regarded the Hmong in need of taxation and the civilizing influences of Chinese culture, hence their term for their fierce fighting peoples being "Miao" (Meo) ; ... 'Barbarians'.
The term remained proudly used by many of their ancestors for hundreds of years, well into the 1970's.
NOTE : The Chinese term of 'Miao" (Meo) , had several varations thru time :
"Miao" to "Miao-Man" or "Man-Miao", "Wuling Man," 'Wuxi Man,"
"Man," and then eventually back to "Miao" (Meo).
So please keep this in mind when
researching the term : "Miao" (Meo).
Such was the identity confussion that existed then,... and even now.
A change came about, during the last part of the war, in the late 1970's,
when an American female volunteer worker in Lao Refugee Camps in Thailand
(who was involved in such self-recognition efforts as selling of refugee
handicrafts), became aware of an identity situation that was resulting
in ill feelings between some of the Refugees. Many of the new arrivals
did not want to be identified as "Mao" but instead demanded to be known
by their historic identity as "Hmong". It was pointed out to refugees
that the United Nations and the international community may not be as
quickly inclined to support the needs of peoples whose name (Mao) might
be translated as "Barbarians", ... but may be more willing to become
sympathetic to peoples who identify with an ancient identity,..one that
was also then used historicly by regional tribesmen ; "Hmong" (Mong).
There was further resentment within the Hmong community over unresolved
issues of the Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese military and even some
described within the Lao Government who did not have any respectful
mental image of any 'warrior' when calling them "Meo", but who instead
were percieved speaking in ill mannerly racial terminology.
The identity change also helped heal resentments between refugees who
didn't want to be known as Meo but demanded to be known as Hmong.
Since then a great emphasis has been noted on the elimination of "Mao"
as an identity and has since been replaced with "Hmong" (Mong).
The transfer to a Hmong (Mong) identity was difficult for some, who even
complained many years later after arriving in America.
But the single identity provided a new unity-of-identity in a stronger
voice of recognition for all peoples so identified as "Hmong".
"HMONG" (MONG) ;
Since the 1970's an identity emphasis has been placed upon "HMONG".
"Hmong" is translated as "Human", and as "Free Man".
Although there remains some disagreement as to the exact meaning of "Free Man".
Some Examples ;
"Free Man" as living free of tight government controls,...
"Free Man" as an 'Unrestricted Person Living Freely',...
"Free Man" as an Outspoken Person,...
"Free Man" as in, NOT a 'Slave',...
"Free Man" as a Political Voice,...
"Free Man" as a Human Being,...
"Free Man" as a Warrior,...
"HMONG LENG" (MONG LENG) ;
"HMONG" (Mong) ; 'Human',... is considered an undesired term by at least one
individual who wrote to me claiming it to be to be "a prejudicial term, with
no male or female predominance of importance in its meaning". Hence he wants
all Hmong's to be known as "Hmong Leng" ("Mong Leng"), which he said, means ;
a "True Human" !
MY APOLOGY :
For the sake of presenting this generalized material to be supportive of the
Hmong in Southeast Asian history, I will henceforth use one reference 'term',
and that term will be "Hmong".
I therefore apologize to anyone who disagrees with that selection. I realize
this issue exists, because I continue to receive an occasional e-mail every
six or nine months from someone demanding 'their identity' as the 'only'
So please understand that everyone can not be satisfied ;
NOT every Identity can be recognized in these brief pages.
NOT every Tribe can be identified in these brief pages.
NOT every person of Historical importance can be included.
Hence the term "Hmong" identity will henceforth be used in this material and
I will do my best with the rest.
Should any better be desired, please simply create your own WebPage and
write it yourself !
The Hmong became a vast interwoven cultural group who dominated south-western China for hundreds of years, until the Hmong had to flee during the arrival of the massive numbers of invading war skilled confederation of Huns, a nomadic central Asian confederation of Tribal peoples, who eventually encrouched upon more and more of the Hmong lands, where after many battles, the surviving more peaceful Hmong moved.
Yet the Hmong Tribes extended their Hmong cultural groups at least as far north as villages in Mongolia, as far west as Tibet, east to the Red River Valley of North Vietnam, south into present-day Laos, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.
The Hmong survived to became one of the most significant minority groups in
China and remains so in Laos .
The Hmong are one of many tribes that have existed in Laos, to include such as the mountain tribes of the
Sino-Tibetan (Hmong, Yao, Aka, and
Lahu) and Thai ethno-linguistic heritage that are found in northern & central Vietnam, Thailand, the central and southern mountains of China where the Mon-Khmer tribes are predominate, (as well as some
Vietnamese and Chinese minorities).
Please find out more about the Hmong
Exploring the history of the Hmong peoples is a great extensive undertaking, so please forgive me in this limited space to provide only very brief information........., but hopefully this information will stimulate further
research by YOU , the reader.
It is my sincere hope that what is offered here on these pages (and links) may stimulate more of the Hmong youth to conduct their own historic research, to document from the living treasures of their elders , to preserve their history, the stories about
foods, the clans
translations, and crafts, so that such knowledge will NOT ever be lost.
The Hmong also have many Veteran heros during their several thousand year history,....... from ancient China , to the modern era in Laos, where Hmong Soldiers and
Pilots bravely fought during the Secret War years.
The careful preservation of such Hmong history in English language, and the original Hmong clans dialects
pronunciations, could then be shared with future generations, to keep alive the history of the Hmong peoples forever !
The following is only a brief exploration of the history of the Hmong peoples, so no attempt is being made to enter
'every word' of their history, but rather only to provide a time line showing the appearances of the Hmong, as compared to other noteworthy events elsewhere.
For those of you who want to learn more about the Hmong and other tribal peoples, I hope these pages stimulate you to begin , or continue, your research.
But first, to discover who the Hmong are, we also need to examine some world events through time
and see where China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand , Burma, Tibet, the Hmong and their ancestors fit into the history of South East Asia.
A Brief Glimpse Into Southeast Asian History and the Hmong
The first to live in Laos were NOT the Hmong, but Millions of years before the birth of the Hmong lived 15 meter long Dinosaurs of the early Cretaceous era who roamed the lands of Savannakhet province in Laos. Their scientific name is Tangvayosaurus hoffeti. Other types have been found elsewhere in Laos, nearby Thailand and elsewhere in Asia.
NOTE : The term "B.C." means "Before Christ" . Jesus Christ birth date is around the year zero in our calendar, which was 2,000 years ago. So an object dated as 2,000 B.C. is 4,000 years old.
Stone tools discovered in Huaphan and Luang
Prabang provinces of Laos show the presence of
prehistoric hunter-gatherers at
least 40,000 years ago.
Some research suggests the existence of an advanced prehistoric global society over
14,000 years ago, that may have been largely destroyed due to a series of global catastrophes around 12,000 B.C. , which are also supported by tribal legends around the globe, many suggestive of
meteorite impact causing their destruction..
Other research suggests that such an advanced civilization may have previously occupied the peninsula of Southeast Asia, where
lowered sea levels would have provided more land mass and land bridges for migratory movement by land , and sea trade extending far into the Pacific basin.
Such ocean side cultures would have become endangered, then have been submerged, in the later years of rising ocean
levels, when the Northern and Southern polar ice sheets melted due to
Climate Catastrophe situations.
Refugees of such flooding low-land sea-side cultures would have migrated to higher lands,
where evidence does suggest that such an advanced culture may have scattered around the Pacific Ocean basin , during a time of global catastrophe, then migrated into higher land areas of such locations as northern Thailand, Laos, China , [ 2 ] and as is evident in the similar artifact distributions of
Pacific islands , Europe, and Egypt, and North America, and
11,000 years ago, some of the earliest evidence of prehistoric
Southeast Asian migration into North America is found in the Inner Columbia River Basin,
at a Stone Age "Wenachee site", dated to 9,000 B.C.,
that also contains the earliest known assemblage of bifacially flaked stone tools with unique
characteristic of a central basal-struck flute allowing for secure hafting of the point to a shaft, as
found in a trail leading from Southeast Asia into Alaska, into Southern South America.
The lands today known as Laos were occupied 10,000 years ago, according to
village sites of stone tools, implements and human bones discovered in Huaphan, Savannakhet and Luang Prabang
(lwäng' prä-bäng') , (Louangphrabang)
provinces of Laos.
NOTE : The central area of Indochina, from the
Mekong River Valley to the Khorat Plateau of
Thailand, was inhabited as far back as 10,000 years ago.
Stone columns in Huaphan province, Laos date from the neolithic period (6,500 B.C.)
Rice was first
cultivated in the Yangtze River (Chang-jiang , which means
"Long River") Valley of China 8,500 years ago, around 6,500 B.C.
NOTE : First Japanese wet-rice farmersDNA traced to migration from ancient rice farmers in the ancient Yangtze River Valley, where the Hmong also resided in ancient times.
A large migrating wave of dominate prehistoric peoples are believed to have arrived in the Northwestern Szechuan ( Sze-ch'uan, Sichuan), China about 5,000 years ago, where many concentrated their homes in the
Yellow River (Huang He, Huang Lee) Valley of China.
It is believed by some that this huge migration may have begun during a time of massive natural disaster or widespread warfare in their former
More then 5,000 years ago the Hmong ancestors lived on the side plain along the upper
reaches of the Yellow River, where they were so successful that they gradually evolved into a tribal group called "Jiu Li", and held sway over ALL of Eastern China
Some believe that artifacts and legends indicate such former homeland origin of the Hmong to have been in the mountainous area of Northwestern
Some believe the ancient Hmong originally came from Mongolia, while others do not believe that, but regardless of the most ancient migrations of the Hmong, it is known that the Hmong progressively became the largest tribal population in Laos.
In China, Huang-Ti (the Yellow Emperor) was the first "authentic ruler" of
China and that therefore scholors say that Chinese history began in 2697 BC.
According to Chinese mythology,
"Huang-Ti" is attributed to have invented the art of writing, medical research, agriculture, physical
education, hunting, and the sports of wrestling, archery, swordsmanship and football.
Around 4,500 years ago the Hmong lived in China's Hebei province, where their
leader was the legendary warrior Chief Chiyou (Ciyou), and his people were
many confederated tribes and they united were known as the Jiuli Tribe.
As Chinese population grew, they expanded
southward into Hmong territory, where
ten wars were fought between the two sides on the
northwestern part of modern-day Beijing (Peking) , where the Hmong won nine battles but lost the tenth.
After so many battles fought against the Chinese, so many losses of lives, and after their defeat in the 10th battle, the Hmong took that as an omen to migrate southward into the lower reaches of the Yellow River
where they re-established the San-Miao Kingdom.