Opium smoking has long since disappeared as a social phenomenon in Java. But in the last century, and during the early decades of this one, smoking opium was a widespread custom in much of the island—the daily habit of hundreds of thousands, a routine part of social life among men in many regions, and a source of considerable profit to the Dutch colonial state. This article addresses the subject of opium in Java; it concentrates on the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the historical period during which opium smoking was most widespread in Java and for which the most abundant documentary resources exist.

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