In Bali there is a philosophy called, “Gotong Royong”, which roughly translates to, “Working together for the benefit of the whole.”
While we were in Bali, we were able to see this philosophy in so many places…at the temple where women worked together to weave baskets of offerings, and again at the John Hardy manor where women wove intricate chains, each one taking a piece of the work and together creating something so beautiful…
'Chinese Opium Den'
Opium Smoker. 1930’s.
Brassaï - Opium Den, 1931
Women in an Opium Den, 1890 ©The Burns Archive
The opium trade – part of what made the British Empire great
In the 18th century, Britain had a huge trade deficit with Qing Dynasty China and so in 1773, the Company created a British monopoly on opium buying in Bengal. As the opium trade was illegal in China, Company ships could not carry opium to China. So the opium produced in Bengal was sold in Calcuttaon condition that it be sent to China.
Despite the Chinese ban on opium imports, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jiaqing Emperor, the drug was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and agency houses such as Jardine, Matheson & Co and Dent & Co. in amounts averaging 900 tons a year. The proceeds of the drug-smugglers landing their cargoes at Lintin Island were paid into the Company’s factory at Canton and by 1825, most of the money needed to buy tea in China was raised by the illegal opium trade.
The Company established a group of trading settlements centred on the Straits of Malacca called the Straits Settlements in 1826 to protect its trade route to China and to combat local piracy. The Settlements were also used as penal settlements for Indian civilian and military prisoners.
In 1838, with the amount of smuggled opium entering China approaching 1,400 tons a year, the Chinese imposed a death penalty for opium smuggling and sent a Special Imperial Commissioner, Lin Zexu, to curb smuggling. This resulted in the First Opium War (1839–1842).
The Opium Smoker’s Dream, 1918