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***Ervin Davis, the creator and maintainer of this website passed away April 22, 2007.

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Nyob zoo ! ... page one

Southeast Asian History
and the Hmong

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 Hmong.
    NOTE : Pictures and Languages of the Hmong.
    NOTE : Hmong research Resources [ 1 ] , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ]
    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 Vietnam.

    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 ancient China.
    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,"
        or simply "Man," and then eventually back to "Miao" (Meo).
        So please keep this in mind when researching the term : "Miao" (Meo).

      "MEO" (Miao) -or- "HMONG" (Mong) -or- "HMONG LENG" (Mong Leng) ?
        Some examples of such identity issues ;

        "MEO" (Miao) ;
        Americans who worked with the Hmong during the war years occasionally
        complain that they never heard of the term "Hmong" untill after the war
        was over. During the war years, Hmong were known by their self-proclaimed
        identity as ; "MEO" (Miao) Tribesmen.
        When American Veterans who served in South Vietnam heard descriptions of
        the Meo (Miao) Tribesmen they assumed them to be another name for the
        stoneage Montagnards (Mountainyards, Yards) of Vietnam.
        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, 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,...
            • etc., etc.

        "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'
        chosen one.
        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

    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 culture, the songs, the foods, the clans language, and 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 -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

            • Page One .......... 75 Million B.C. to 2,500 B.C.
            • Page Two .......... 2,500 B.C. to 483 B.C.
            • Page Three .......... 483 B.C. to 650 A.D.
            • Page Four ......... 650 A.D. to

    75 Million B.C.

    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.

    38,000 B.C.

    Stone tools discovered in Huaphan and Luang Prabang provinces of Laos show the presence of prehistoric hunter-gatherers at least 40,000 years ago.

    12,000 B.C.

    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 Asia , Pacific islands , Europe, and Egypt, and North America, and South America.

    9,000 B.C.

    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.

    8,000 B.C.

    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 (lw�ng' pr�-b�ng') , (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.

    6,500 B.C.

    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.
    NOTE : Genetic research data.
    NOTE : Stone axe heads and other artifacts found in northern Thailand at prehistoric Chiang Saen village look identical to axe [ 2 ] heads found in North American prehistoric culture sites.
    NOTE : See Yangtze River data.
    NOTE : See photos of rice transplanting.
    NOTE : Ancient Rice-Fish culture in China.
    NOTE : Rice cooking instructions.

    3,000 B.C.

    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 homelands.

    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 Mongolia.

    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.

    NOTE : Chinese Mythology and History.
    NOTE : Chinese Embroidered cloths.
    NOTE : Traditional Chinese Phytotherapy and Medicine.
    NOTE : Chinese Herbs, and translate Chinese Herbs into English.

    2,697 B.C.

    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.

    2,650 B.C.

    Meanwhile in Egypt : The Khufu and Khafre Pyramids were built in Egypt (c.2650 BC) with astrological alignments.

    Meanwhile in Inda : Harappan Civilization in Indus River Valley is at its glory in ancient India ( 2600 - 2500 B.C.), (where Pakistan is at today), where the Harappa [ 2 ] and Mohenjo-Dara , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] culture residents lived in multi-level houses and had city-wide plumbing , [ 2 ] untill their civilization collapsed because of a suspected natural disaster altering the course of the Indus River.
    NOTE : Indus Valley resources

    2,500 B.C.

    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.
    The Hun's expanded their territory into the lands occupied by the Hmong about 2,200 B.C. and again the Hmong moved, leaving the Hun to live in the Yellow River Valley of China.

    History of the Hmong's Southeast Asia

    And now it's up to you !

    "He who asks is a fool for five minutes,
    but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."

    -- Old Chinese saying

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    This WebPage was first published 21 April 2000 by WebMaster : Ervin Davis
    Last Up-dated : 17 July 2005

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