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Insurgency and Social Disorder in Guizhou

Insurgency and Social Disorder in Guizhou: The "Miao" Rebellion, 1854-1873

Copyright Date: 1994
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  • Book Info
    Insurgency and Social Disorder in Guizhou
    Book Description:

    In this first English-language examination of the uprisings that took place in Guizhou during the 1850s and 1860s, Robert Jenks not only provides readers with a reconstruction of the complex series of events that made up the rebellion but argues convincingly against its accepted characterization as a purely ethnic conflict-a "Miao" rebellion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6300-5
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 Backdrop for the “Miao” Rebellion
    (pp. 1-9)

    In the midnineteenth century China faced a formidable array of challenges, both internal and external. The huge and continuing growth of the population introduced a number of strains that had an increasingly adverse effect on Chinese society. Population expansion intensified competition for land, while even border areas were becoming so crowded that they could no longer accommodate the large numbers of migrants who sought to escape the desperate conditions prevailing in the most densely populated parts of China. Demographic pressures directly affected peasants, who comprised the bulk of the population, by making it more difficult for them to eke out...

  6. 2 The Setting
    (pp. 10-26)

    Ever since Guizhou became a province under the Ming dynasty in 1413, the Chinese have almost invariably prefaced their descriptions of the area by saying it is a poor and unhealthy place. In the 1930s the geographer J. E. Spencer described the province as follows:

    In dealing with Chinese affairs it has been customary to refer to the southwestern provinces as backward and to Kueichou as an outstandingly poor and barren province…. In spite of … hopes for the future, the people of Kueichou today are distressingly poor. Nowhere in several provinces of central and southern China has the writer...

  7. 3 The Ethnic Dimension and Rebel Motivations
    (pp. 27-57)

    The area known for the past several centuries as Guizhou has had a long history of turbulence. Unrest was endemic to the region, which remained a frontier of the Chinese empire until the twentieth century despite the fact that it had not bordered on any foreign country for hundreds of years. As late as the 1930s, areas of the province remained the semi-independent fiefdoms of various ethnic minority groups and were beyond the effective control of the central government.

    Even the Han population in settled parts of Guizhou was on the fringes of the empire. Physically isolated, it was also...

  8. 4 Unrest in Guizhou during the Ming and Qing and Its Relation to Folk Religion
    (pp. 58-72)

    Before the Ming dynasty, violence and social disorder in Guizhou were recorded sporadically in official sources. Based on the area’s rough frontier environment and later record of turmoil, it seems safe to assume that in the early period, more outbreaks occurred than the sources record. From the Ming dynasty on, the record is fuller, though it is by no means complete. The Guizhou provincial gazetteer of 1741 indicates that throughout the Ming, scarcely a decade went by without a serious incident.¹ During the thirty-two-year reign of the dynastic founder, the Hongwu emperor (r. 1368–1399), some twenty-two instances of rebellion...

  9. 5 The Beginning of the Rebellion
    (pp. 73-104)

    The midnineteenth-century rebellion in Guizhou was a complicated insurrection, or more accurately, series of insurrections. It involved dozens of rebel groups and scores of major rebel leaders. Before launching into the intricate counterpoint of their lengthydanse macabre, it is necessary to provide a brief overview to which the often confusing details of the rebellion can be related.

    The first major outbreak came in March 1854, with the revolt of Yang Yuanbao in Dushan. Yang, who was most likely a member of the Bouyei ethnic group, lasted barely two months, but his revolt was almost immediately followed by that of...

  10. 6 The Spread of the Rebellion
    (pp. 105-146)

    Fresh rebel onslaughts were surprisingly slow in coming. To the great relief of the authorities, government troops made gains against the rebels in several parts of Guizhou during the first seven months of 1856. Even in the southeast, where the fighting was the fiercest, a temporary standoff had developed. While the Red Signals were being eliminated in the northeast, Xiaoshun and his subordinates pushed back the Bouyei and Miao in the south-central part of the province, and the militia in Guiding held its own, preventing the rebels from getting any closer to the provincial capital. On February 17, 1856, Brigade-General...

  11. 7 Decline and Aftermath
    (pp. 147-163)

    One of the first large-scale efforts to reinforce Guizhou’s depleted and ineffective provincial forces came in April 1865. It was sparked in part by the raids that rebel bands had been carrying out across the border in parts of southern Sichuan, notably Qijiang and Nanchuan districts, but also other sections farther to the west. Spillovers of this type are indications that the province was not necessarily viewed as the governing geographic unit. The natural lines of geographic division did not always follow the administrative boundaries.

    Liu Yuezhao, who was appointed governor of Yunnan in 1866 and governor-general of Yunnan and...

  12. 8 The Costs and Nature of the “Miao” Rebellion
    (pp. 164-172)

    The cost of the rebellion was appalling in terms of lives, property damage, and funds required for suppression. Reliable figures are difficult to find. Ling Ti’an, the only person who has ventured to make an estimate of the losses incurred,¹ believes that about 4,900,000 people died out of a total population of perhaps 7,000,000; that personal property losses were worth about 25,000,000 taels of silver; and that the direct costs to the government for military operations amounted to more than 80,000,000 taels. These figures are undoubtedly high, but the costs were great even if we reduce his estimates drastically.


  13. Notes
    (pp. 173-196)
  14. Glossary
    (pp. 197-204)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-218)
  16. Index
    (pp. 219-227)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 228-228)