March 2, 2016
This long held fair is to pay respect to the local people who made the ultimate sacrifice in their fight against the marauding Haw
When: Annually 5 -15th March
Where: Ban Mo, Si Chiang Mai, Nong Khai Northeast Thailand
Prap Ho Monument Fair is held annually in March, at the Prap Ho Monument and incorporates the cities Anou Savari Festival, the latter Festival is a special event held only in Nong Khai, from the 5th to the 15th of March. The event commemorates the defeat of the “Hau”(also known as Haw, Chin Haw or Chin Ho or Hui (Thai: จีนฮ่อ)), during the Haw wars of 1865 to 1890.
The fair/festival has a number of stages to host numerous shows, featuring the local culture, including both musicians and dancers. While the noise maybe deafening, the fun is infectious, with games and competitions including the very quick and acrobatic Takraw, a kind of volleyball using the feet and a smallish rattan ball, there of course will be a mass of stalls and booths selling all manner of food, drinks and local handicrafts.
The Plundering Haw are Eventually Stopped
The Haw (who still live among the Hill Tribes of Thailand’s mountainous northern provinces) are a ‘Punti’ (Yunnaese) speaking people of Yunnan Province southwest China and the boarder of Lao – and the then Siam, who had rebelled against their own government and who swept into Thailand during the earlier years 1884 – 1886 (Around the time of the opening of hostilities of the Sino-French War). The Haw forces at one stage raided as far south as Korat. (Nakhon Ratchasima – Southern Isaan).
The marauding Haw had been able to steal, rob, plunder and massacre almost unchecked, everything and everyone they came across in the preceding two decades, despite a number Siamese expedition forces that were sent to quell them.
The Haw (in Thai historical reports) were eventually defeated by the Thai leader HRH Kromamune Prachak Silpakom and his Siamese army with the help of Lao, Chinese, Phuan and British fighters, after they had captured the once Phuan independent principality located in today’s Xieng Khouang province, north-east Lao, which was then governed by Siam.
Prap Ho Monument
Today the Haw Wars are all but forgotten. One memorial to the Thai and Lao soldiers killed in the struggle stands in front of the old Nong Khai City Hall, now a community center and museum. A larger, newer one stands behind the Police Barracks. Down by the Mekong River in view of Laos on the opposite bank. Nearby, the city maintains the lovely little Garden of Sorrows (Thai: สวนโศกเศร้า), with signs signifying this is where widows came to grieve.
The Hau in Today’s Thailand
Many guidebooks and travel agents describe the Hau (Chin-Haw) as the Kingdom’s “Chinese Hill Tribe”. Due to the fact that they have immersed themselves into the mountainous regions financial and cultural affairs so much so that their native dialect of Yunnanese Mandarin has become a common language for the many different tribes
The Yunnanese themselves dislike the Thai term “Chin Haw”, due in part to its previous connection to their marauding desendents. In ethnic terms they are divided, more or less evenly, between Hui Muslims and Han Buddhists. Many of the Hui trace their arrival in the Sino-Thai borderlands to the failure of the great Yunnanese Muslim rebellion in 1878.
In a more alarming account of the Chin Haw, Joel John Barlow wrote in February 2011; “Drugs and Cultural Survival in the Golden Triangle” which stated ‘Muslim Chin Haw have links to triad secret societies in cooperating in the drug trade, working with other Chinese groups in Thailand like the Teo-Chiew and Hakka and the 14K Triad. They engaged in the heroin trade. Ma Hseuh-fu, from Yunnan province, was one of the most prominent Chin Haw heroin drug lords, his other professions included trading in tea and as a hotelier’.
Their checkered and at times bloody history is implanted into their persona so much so that in their former homelands they are considered hardy frontiersmen. As a result of this they are often cast as ‘hard men’ in local movies!
Whether Han or Hui, good or bad these migrants are certainly not a “Hill Tribe”, they are, however, very definitely an integral and important part of Hill Tribe life throughout Northern Thailand.
For more on the Haw see our post The Haw in Today’s Thailand
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