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Triad Society

Triad Society

An ancient esoteric society of China. The candidate was taken to a dark room by two members to kneel before the president. He was given a living cock and a knife and took an oath to assist his brethren in any emergency, even at the risk of his life. He then cut off the head of the cock, mingled its blood with his own, and the three assisting individuals added some of their own blood.

After being warned that death is the punishment should he divulge the secrets of the society, he was initiated and given the triad signs of recognition. For example, a member had to lift any object with three fingers only. This society, originally altruistic, later became political.

Various Triad societies were revived in Hong Kong to operate criminal extortion and protection rackets. Cinema protection was a specialty of these gangs and usually involved Triad members being employed as ushers, ticket-sellers, or sub-managers.

Financial operations involve magic numerals, symbolic of the particular Triad society. For example, protection money may be demanded in sums relating to the figure 8, the lower half of the Chinese character Hung, used by some Triad societies. The numeral 3 denotes heaven, earth, and man. The word Triad originally was used as a mystical symbol.

In the 1970s, the Triad racketeering operations in Hong Kong resulted in the publication of a police manual, Triad Societies of Hong Kong, restricted to police personnel. In 1976, the Triad societies spread their operations to Britain, where cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Southampton, Manchester, and London with large Chinese populations could be victimized. Triad protection rackets even operate in the West End cinemas and clubs of London, where vicious fights have been reported involving meat cleavers.

A muscleman in the Shing Wo Triad is known as "426," a numerical symbol for "Red stick" or "enforcer." In some British cities, the protection racket is being partially reduced by closing down illegal gambling clubs where Triad members meet or convert their funds.

Sources:

Chesneaux, Jean. Secret Societies in China in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1971.

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Triad Society

Triad Society, name given to a number of Chinese antidynastic secret societies by 19th-century Western observers. Most of these groups claimed descent from the Heaven and Earth Society (Taendi hui) or the Triad Society (Sanhe hui), two secret societies of the late 17th cent. that had originated in Fujian prov. The avowed purpose of these societies was to overthrow the alien Manchu Ch'ing dynasty and to restore the native Chinese Ming dynasty. Societies sharing a similar ideology, ritual, and terminology spread all along the SE China coast. In times of peace the secret societies functioned as fraternal organizations, but they often became involved in criminal activities and at times armed conflict with rival groups occurred. Poor peasants, itinerant workers, and others who lacked strong kinship ties found security in the fraternal ties and in the protection offered by the societies. The Taiping Rebellion (1850–64) brought a revival of secret-society militancy and anti-Manchu sentiment, but local groups continued to function independently and no hierarchic organization was achieved. Branches of the Triads assisted Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionaries to carry out armed insurrection against the Ch'ing dynasty in the decade before the republican revolution of 1911. The Communist government of China launched (1949–50) a campaign to eliminate secret societies soon after assuming power. Triad societies persisted outside mainland China and among overseas Chinese. For the activities of secret societies in N China during the Ch'ing period, see White Lotus Rebellion; Boxer Uprising.

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"Triad Society." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Triad Society." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/triad-society