As you can see in the Shop section, there is a category with antique opium pipes for sale, and opium smoking accessories, opium has played a major rule in the history of china, and the items that were made for it are extraordinary, such as most of Chinese art works.
In this article you can read about the history of those antique pipes and China.
During the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.) opium has been introduced to China by the Arab traders, the use of opium back in that time and until the Qing dynasty was mostly as a medicine.
In the 18th Century, Europe has tried to trade with china, and sell their own manufactured products to the Chinese, However, the emperor has refused, and declared they do not need anything from the foreign countries, China was still involved in the trade of Silk, Porcelain and tea, but only as exporter.
Chinese porcelain, silk and other imported goods were bought by the Europeans, gold and silver that was used to pay for those items stayed in china, as the trade was only going in one way, until the British found a solution, Opium.
Opium as a drug was introduced to the Chinese during the 18th century, but the amount was limited in the beginning, and was rising with the progress of the years.
The east India company has brought opium to the coast of china where it was sold to Chinese smugglers who distribute the opium with a defiance of the Chinese law,
Emperor Daoguang who ruled china between 1820-1850 has tried to restrict the use of opium, and issued many edicts against it, what has caused the first opium war.
The First Opium War (1839-1842 A.D.)
The first opium war has began when Emperor Daoguang was calling to take action against the opium smuggling and use in China.
He has ordered one of his commissioners to stop it, he sent letter to Queen Victoria, when no replay came, he ordered to destroy a large supply of opium that was coming to china, but was still in international waters, when the British learned about the destruction in Canton (the port that was open to Great Britain), They have sent a large British-Indian army to deal with China.
The British army was much more advanced in technology, Muskets and modern canons who fired rapidly has caused a lot of destruction on Chinese coast, canton has fell to the hand of the British who moved up the Yangtze river and took the tax barges.
The Chinese empire sued for piece, and sign a peace treaty with the British, they were forced to pay indemnity and surrendered Hong-Kong as well as open four ports for the British.
Second opium war (1856-1860 A.D.)
After the first opium war, the Chinese government tried to minimize the trade with foreign merchants and even victimized Chinese who traded with the British.
The British gave those Chinese merchants a British registration for their ship and thought the Chinese will not interfere with ships who carries their flag.
In 1856 A.D. a ship name “Arrow” was caught by Chinese authorities and seized for piracy, the ship was still flying the British flag, however their registration was expired. the British governor demand the immediate release of the crew and an apology for the insult of the British flag.
The Chinese has released the crew, however haven’t provided any apology.
The governor in Hong-Kong commanded his warships to fire at canton, and the second opium war has started.
Even though the Hong-Kong governor acted rashly without consulting London he received support from Prime Minister Palmerston who wanted to force the Chinese for a full trade relations, whether they liked it or not.
The French empire who was eager to join this conflict assembled their army, and Anglo-French army under Admiral sir Michael Seymour fought at canton and then moved up to capture the Taku forts near Tientsin.
Negotiations has brought the Tientsin treaties in 1858 A.D. however they did not last, and the war continued, the Anglo-French army has arrived to Peking and looted the summer palace after few engagements with Chinese armies.
China sued for peace once again, and agreed to all demands, they have opened new ports for trade, returned captives of war and regulated the opium trade with Chinese authorities, Kowloon was surrendered to the British, diplomats were allowed to go to Peking and indemnity was paid both to Great-Britain and France.
Revolution (1949-1952 A.D.)
China which was forced to keep with the opium trade has decided to grow opium herself, and many lands were dedicated to growing of opium, so the profit money from the opium will not only go to the foreign traders.
In 1907 A.D. the emperor has decided to gradually stop the growing and importing of opium, he planned to do it in a period of 10 years, however, so many people were already addicted and the task was very difficult.
The Qing dynasty was ended at 1911, and so the end of imperial China.
The Republic of China was born, and with many problems, it is said there were about 70 Million people in China that was addicted to opium by 1949 A.D. when the real opium revolution happened.
By 1949 the people of China were very poor, controlled by few rich landlords, warlords and foreign capitalists, what has made many of the common Chinese people to seek comfort in opium smoking.
“Mao Tsetung” was the one who has stopped the opium use in China, and he did it in three years, after his communist party has took control over china, and the power of society has been used to serve the people.
The revolutionary system has trusted the power to the hand of society, and made the people all over china get rid of the opium by themselves, campaigns has been launched and the newspapers and radio was helping to give moral to the people in order to solve this problem, it used the mass of the people to control the people.
Each person was entrusted in the power to change the society, while in the beginning many addicts tried to object and resist, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children’s argued and urged their love ones to get into the new society which was reforming in china, and the mass of the people couldn’t be stopped, addicts could not hide the fact they were using drugs, in addition, the revolutionaries attacked the supply networks of the opium, so even the addicts who wanted to continue using it found it hard to get any drugs.
One of most interesting thing about this method was that the addicted people weren’t treated bad, and even more than that, people who got out of smoking opium were praised, the society has supported them and complimented them for doing the right and revolutionary thing!
Mao’s government gave the addicts few months to get clean, and even allowed them to keep little of opium during that period, but after that, they had to get clean, small dealers were also treated mercifully and the government offered to buy their supply if they will stop selling it and get clean themselves.
Only the big dealers who got rich over the suffering of the majority during those many years, were imprisoned or executed.
In 1951 A.D. North of China was free from opium use and grow, while southern china was clean a year later.