Opium in Southeast Asia
This sumptuous scene was captured in the private smoking room of a residence in French Indochina in the early 20th century.
These emaciated and no doubt seriously addicted opium smokers were photographed in Java in the early 20th century.
A public opium den for working-class smokers of Chinese and Thai ethnicity in Bangkok's Chinatown in the 1950s.
Two Vietnamese in a private smoking room furnished with an opium bed.
This Vietnamese smoker's elaborate layout included a hardwood tray with mother-of-pearl inlay and miniature, spittoon-shaped pots on which to rest pipe-bowls.
A Vietnamese sporting a traditional turban smokes opium in a bamboo hut.
A postcard from French Indochina showing a Vietnamese opium smoker with a modest layout.

Opium smoking in the Chinese manner arrived in Southeast Asia with Chinese immigrants and traders. By the 19th century, the capitals of Europe's Southeast Asian colonies all had bustling Chinese quarters. From Rangoon to Batavia to Saigon to Manila, it didn't take long for opium smoking to catch on in popularity with the native populations. In most cases, the colonial powers sought to control and tax the opium trade, allowing smoking to go on as long as it was profitable. Southeast Asian smokers for the most part used Chinese-made pipes, lamps and other accoutrements. The honorable exception were the Vietnamese who were famed for their fabulous works of art in silver. Only in Vietnam did opium accoutrements deviate from the Chinese model, and the Vietnamese developed their own style of lamps, tools, trays, and rituals of smoking.

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