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China run by Triads & masonic secret societies

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:54 pm    Post subject: China run by Triads & masonic secret societies Reply with quote

Obviously, completely untangling this dense history (thick with its own mythology that further obscures the facts) is far beyond the scope of this humble thread. But we have to start somewhere, no? The three major posts I plan to make in this thread will follow the following outline:
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread701662/pg1

Part I. The Big Picture
A whirlwind tour of the major names, groups, and phenomena that make up the backbone of the long history of Chinese secret societies. All of the information (names, dates, etc.) in this section falls more or less within the realm of standard, “orthodox” history, and are not in any serious scholarly dispute. This will give you some background to look more closely at any specific secret societies or related phenomena.

Part II. The Triads: A Closer Look
A quick look at the origins, ritual world, and some of the lore of the Triads, the most well-known Chinese secret societies active today. As I will avoid a number of specific aspects surrounding this topic (see below), this section will probably be shorter than the other two.

III. Lore, Ritual, and Mythos
The Triads and other Chinese secret societies define themselves with permutations of a complex esoteric system that is part history, part ritual, and part mythology. Exploring it is one way to reach a closer understanding of how the societies see themselves, as well as to shed some light on their inner worldview.

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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chinese Triad Society
http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195396607/ob o-9780195396607-0115.xml
Criminology Chinese Triad Society
T. Wing Lo, Sharon Ingrid Kwok
LAST REVIEWED: 07 JULY 2017
LAST MODIFIED: 27 SEPTEMBER 2017
DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396607-0115
Introduction

In the 17th century, the Chinese triad society, also known as the Hung Mun, Tien Tei Wei (Heaven and Earth Society), or San Hwo Hui (Three United Society), was founded to overthrow the Ch’ing dynasty and restore the Ming dynasty in China. Guided by a strong patriotic doctrine, the triad maintained a rigid central control over the behavior and activities of its members, who regarded themselves as blood brothers and were expected to be loyal and righteous. The early triad society still maintained its secret and cultural features, as reflected in its paraphernalia, organizational structure, recruitment mechanism, initiation ceremony, oaths, rituals, secret codes, and communication system. There were clear rules, codes of conduct, and chains of command. In the early 1900s, the Hung Mun gradually disintegrated into many triad societies or gangs that operated independently from each other in different parts of China. With the Chinese Communist Party in power in 1949, many triad members escaped to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Chinatowns in overseas countries together with thousands of refugees. In the beginning, refugees from the same ethnic groups united themselves to protect their own interests against other ethnic groups in a definite neighborhood. With the infiltration of triad elements, some of these groups were gradually transformed into triad societies (or tongs in Chinatowns overseas), which used violence to protect them in a dominated territory. In postwar decades, Hong Kong was the capital of triads, and it was suggested by a police commissioner that one in every six of the 3 million Hong Kong inhabitants was a triad member. Because of their entrenched subculture and cohesion, triads are regarded as effective in enforcing control in local territories, but it is argued that their hierarchical structure is incompatible with the dynamic nature of many forms of transnational organized crime, such as human smuggling. On the other hand, China’s open door policy in the 1980s encouraged triads to shift their moneymaking focus onto mainland China. In view of assistance provided by triads to smuggle out democratic leaders after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 and China’s resumption of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, China applied a “united front” tactic to recruit Hong Kong triads to the communist camp. A label of patriotic triad was bestowed on triad leaders, who were able to set foot in China. Triads experienced a process of mainlandization as a result of China’s economic growth and rising demand for limited goods and services. They network with Chinese officials and enterprises and forge cooperative relationships with mainland criminal groups, trying to capitalize in the booming underworld. They exchange crime techniques with Chinese counterparts and import sex workers and dangerous drugs from the mainland into Hong Kong. Today, a business approach has developed alongside the traditional triad crime. Triads have been engaged in legitimate businesses and worked with entrepreneurs and professionals to make financial gain in business markets. They are less structurally organized than their patriotic counterparts of the past, and triad rituals have been simplified.

General Overviews

Early works on triad societies focused on history and rituals that were based on those used in Hung Mun in ancient times. They described triad myths as the origin of patriotic culture. Among them, Schlegel 1866, Stanton 1900, and Morgan 1960 are authoritative triad literature accepted in the court of Hong Kong. They are often referred to by the police in prosecuting offenses related to triad membership. Chu 2000 provides a description of the development of triad societies in Hong Kong. Chu argued that the emergence of triads in Hong Kong was not a response to local needs, nor a purposive migration of triads from mainland China, but rather a consequence of an influx of refugees from the mainland to Hong Kong during the postwar and post-communist takeover decades. Chin 1990 finds that ordinary street crimes, such as vice, gambling, extortion, and drug dealing, are facilitated by the traditional triad hierarchical structure. Through such structural and subcultural control, triad societies are able to compel their members to run illicit activities. Liu 2001 also provides a comprehensive background of triad history, activities, political involvement, relationships with Chinese officials, and operations in overseas markets. Lo and Kwok 2012 examines the impact of socioeconomic changes on triad organized crime in modern times. The authors contend that triads are bound by the same codes of conduct and chains of command that ensure the formation of blood brothers with one solitary aspiration. With such authority and manipulation amid the triad syndicate, this aspiration inevitably results in the running of illicit activities in triad-controlled territories. As a result of socioeconomic changes, triads move from localization to mainlandization, triad brotherhood to entrepreneurship, and cohesion to disorganization. Lo and Kwok 2013 suggests that as the intimacy between Hong Kong and China has grown deeper, an upsurge of cross-border crime has emerged since the 1990s. Prosperity in China spawned a process of mainlandization of triad activities because of an ever-increasing demand for licit and illicit services in Chinese communities. The relationship among triads, tongs, and transnational organized crime is examined.

Chin, K. 1990. Chinese subculture and criminality: Non-traditional crime groups in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
E-mail Citation »
This book portrays triad as an ancient Chinese secret society, bound by oaths, regarding members as blood brothers in one family, and dedicated to restoring the ancient ruler to the throne at the beginning, which later became criminal syndicates using partial rituals for their own moneymaking purposes.
Chu, Y. K. 2000. The triads as business. London: Routledge.
E-mail Citation »
Most of the early Hong Kong triads started as noncriminal mutual-aid groups, which was a collective response to the exploitation by criminals and monopolization in the labor market. At first, they started to unite to protect each other, and, eventually, these mutual-aid groups became triads to sell protection services.
Liu, B. 2001. The Hong Kong triad societies: Before and after the 1997 change-over. Hong Kong: Net e-Publishing.
E-mail Citation »
The book documents the history of triad societies and provides a detailed account of triad activities in different settings, such as schools, communities, the entertainment and film industry, and casinos. The development of triad societies in Hong Kong and overseas countries is discussed. A chapter on the relationship between Hong Kong triads and Beijing officials is worth reading.
Lo, T. W., and S. I. Kwok. 2012. Traditional organized crime in the modern world: How triad societies respond to socioeconomic change. In Traditional organized crime in the modern world. Edited by D. Siegel and H. van de Bunt, 67–89. New York: Springer.
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-3212-8E-mail Citation »
The paper contends that triads were cohesive criminal organizations focally aimed at monetary gain in dominated territories. Socioeconomic changes in Hong Kong and China have forced triads to move from a rigid territorial base and cohesive structure to more reliance on flexible and instrumental social networks. They are entrepreneurially oriented and involved in a wide range of licit and illicit businesses based in Hong Kong but have spread to mainland China. Different kinds of crime are discussed.
Lo, T. W., and S. I. Kwok. 2013. Chinese triads and tongs. In Encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice. Edited by G. Bruinsma and D. Weisburd. New York: Springer.
E-mail Citation »
This paper provides an overview of Chinese triad societies, their organizational structure, rituals and subculture, criminal activities, and issues related to the patriotic triads and mainlandization of triad activities. It has a special section on the discussion of tong and its relations with triads and transnational organized crime.
Morgan, W. P. 1960. Triad societies in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Government Printer.
E-mail Citation »
An authoritative literature of triad societies, published by the Hong Kong Police Force, outlines the historical development of the structure, subculture, and rituals of traditional triad societies. It provides the names of a large number of triad societies in Hong Kong.
Schlegel, G. 1866. Thian ti hwui: The Hung league/Heaven-earth-league. Batavia, Dutch East Indies: Lange.
E-mail Citation »
This volume is a classic historical study of the triad society, known as Thian ti hwui (Heaven and Earth Society) in ancient times. It starts with a discussion of the political history of the Hung League (Hung Mun). There are detailed accounts of structure and subculture, including instruments of the lodge, poems, the government of Hung League with different grades of senior officers, and the use of secret signs with the setting of wine cups or chopsticks and on the way they smoke tobacco or opium.
Stanton, W. 1900. The Triad Society or Heaven and Earth Association. Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.
E-mail Citation »
This book provides a classic historical overview of the triad society named Heaven and Earth Association in ancient times. It starts with an introduction to the early secret societies, such as the White Lotus, and examines triad society in and outside of China. It includes are detailed accounts of triad origins, rituals, initiatory ceremonies, certificates of membership, signs, and test words.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heaven, Earth and Brotherhood
By Makeswary Periasamy
http://www.nlb.gov.sg/biblioasia/2017/07/12/heaven-earth-and-brotherho od/

Secret societies arrived on the back of mass migrations of Chinese to Asia in the colonial era. Makeswary Periasamy highlights the National Library’s collection of early books on Chinese triads.

The National Library’s Rare Materials Collection – which comprises a valuable collection of books and printed items from as early as the 15th century − has a number of works on secret societies and their activities in colonial outposts such as Riau, Batavia, Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong.

These works were mostly written by Western colonial officials working in the region, such as William A. Pickering, Gustave Schlegel, William Stanton, William G. Stirling and J.S.M. Ward. Most of these writers were proficient in the Chinese language and gathered information on secret societies from interviews with detained members, from perusing seized documents, and in the case of William A. Pickering, by observing the initiation ceremonies of secret society members.1

The works of these colonial writers focused mainly on the Chinese secret society Tiandihui (天地会) − the “society of the three united, Heaven, Earth and Man” − which originated in China’s Fujian province in the mid-1700s.2 The society was originally formed in China for the purpose of overthrowing the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and restoring the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) of ethnic Han Chinese.3 Secret societies, which started off in various parts of Asia ostensibly to provide financial aid and social support to newly arrived Chinese immigrants, trace their roots primarily to the Tiandihui in China.

Besides comparing the secret societies to the Freemason4 order of medieval England, the authors also describe the origins and governance of secret societies, initiation ceremonies for new members, secret society paraphernalia, the oaths and rites that bind the brotherhood through fictive kinship, as well as symbols and code words recognisable only to members.

Works from the 1800s
One of the earliest works on Chinese secret societies in the Rare Materials Collection is a study in German − Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s (1852) − by the Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger. He translated the term “Tiandihui” into German as “Himmel, Erde, Bruderschaft”, which means “Heaven, Earth, Brotherhood”.5

Between 1832 and 1842, Röttger worked as a missionary in Riau island in Indonesia, interacting with the 5,000-strong Chinese population there and learning the ways of the Tiandihui. Due to ill health, he left for Europe to recuperate but returned for a second stint between 1844 and 1845.

A comprehensive 19th-century study on the Tiandihui is Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India (1866) by Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia (or Dutch Indies as it was known then).6

After spending several years in China, Schlegel arrived in Batavia (now Jakarta) as a Chinese interpreter in 1862. Through his work, he was able to gather much information on secret societies. One year into his posting, Schlegel was asked to translate documents found in the home of a secret society member who had been arrested. He also had access to secret society materials seized by the Dutch colonial government, as well as two Chinese manuscripts detailing secret society rites and oaths. In 1866, Schlegel published his landmark study on the Tiandihui.

The National Library also has a set of unbound manuscripts and documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies that were influential in Penang in the mid-1800s. Known as the Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang,7 it likely came from the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang, which was set up to manage the affairs of Chinese migrants, including the supervision of secret societies (similar offices were also set up in Malacca and Singapore). Of particular importance is a document containing parts of the 1868 Penang Riots Commission Report.8

The Penang Riots of 1867 involved four secret societies: Ghee Hin Society (also known as Kian Tek), Toh Peh Kong Society, White Flag Society and Red Flag Society. The riots started on 3 August 1867 over a “trifling quarrel” that subsequently escalated and lasted for 10 days. A commission of enquiry was subsequently set up to investigate the cause of the riots.9

The Penang collection also includes William A. Pickering’s article on “Chinese Secret Societies” (1879), which describes a Tiandihui initiation ceremony he witnessed in Singapore. Pickering became the first Protector of the Chinese in Singapore in 1877, and he himself joined the Tiandihui. This was at a time when the Tiandihui was a registered de facto society in Singapore.10 Pickering’s fluency in Mandarin and Chinese dialects had helped him earn the trust of the Chinese.

Works from the 1900s


Three out of the five flags of ranks representing the five principal lodges of the Hung Society. Pictured here (from left to right) are the flags for Earl (伯), Baron (男) and Marquis (候). The other two ranks are Viscount (子) and Duke (公). All rights reserved, Lim, I. (1999). Secret Societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling Collection (p. 46). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM)

William G. Stirling was the Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931 when he co-authored the three-volume work, The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth (1925–26), with J.S.M. Ward, who had previously written on the subject of Freemasonry.11 In this publication, the authors attempted to prove that the Freemasons and Tiandihui shared common origins.12

Stirling, a Freemason himself and married to a Chinese, used Schlegel’s work as a basis to understand the secret societies he was dealing with. Stirling penned the first volume on the history of the Tiandihui, and explained in detail its initiation ceremonies and rituals. Ward wrote the other two volumes, comparing the Tiandihui’s ceremonies with those from other ancient cultures.

In Singapore, the Tiandihui took on the name Ghee Hin Kongsi (meaning “Rise of the Righteousness”), and became the first secret society to be formed here in 1820. In 1972, it further entrenched itself as a legitimate society with the purchase of a temple at No. 4 China Street.13 Although members paid annual and initiation fees, Stirling observed that revenue was also collected via illegal means such as gambling, opium sales and prostitution.

In 1890, when secret societies were declared illegal in Singapore following the enactment of the 1889 Societies Ordinance, most of the documents and paraphernalia belonging to the society were destroyed by the colonial authorities. Fortunately, a number of seals and certificates were salvaged and surrendered to the office of the Protector of the Chinese. These items are now part of the William Stirling Collection at the National Museum of Singapore.

The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association (1900) was originally written by William J. Stanton in the late 1890s as a series of journal articles. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong, could speak Chinese dialects and was instrumental in surpressing the activities of the secret societies.14

The publication provides a comprehensive overview of Hong Kong’s Triad Society – the Tien Ti Hin or the Heaven and Earth Association. Stanton reproduced in his book the membership certificates of 10 secret societies that he had collected all over Southeast Asia.15 In addition to translating and explaining the various seals used by the Triad Society, Stanton also described the methods used to verify the identity of a member. These included hand signs, code words, asking specific test questions (see below) as well as knowledge of certain arrangements of objects such as teacups.



The Rare Materials Collection’s most recent work on the Tiandihui is Triad and Tabut: A Survey of the Origin and Diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan Secret Societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D. 1800–1935 (1941).16 Printed for internal distribution and intended for use by government authorities only, it is based on an unfinished manuscript by Mervyn Llewelyn Wynne, a senior police officer in Penang.

Wynne reviewed the history and development of the Chinese and Malay secret societies in Malaya by collating all the earlier works. He completed the first part of his research in December 1936 but was unable to finish the work as he was killed at the start of the Japanese Occupation in 1942.

Although incomplete, Wynne’s work provides a comprehensive overview of secret societies in 19th-century Malaya and makes reference to many documents that are no longer available.17 The National Library holds a copy of the rare 1941 imprint as well as three copies of the 1957 re-issued version with a foreword by Wilfred L. Blythe, the former Colonial Secretary of Singapore.

In this 1852 German-language book on Chinese secret societies in Riau, Indonesia, Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger discusses the history, structure and initiation rituals of triads using information gleaned from interviews with society members and the local Chinese community. The pentagon-shaped seal of the Chinese secret society Tiandihui on page 11 of the book shows the five Chinese characters – 土 (earth), 木 (wood), 水 (water), 金 (metal) and 火 (fire) . These represent the five elements in Chinese philosophy. All rights reserved, Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B20032051B.
This illustration is taken from another seminal 19th-century work on secret societies in Indonesia. In his book written in English and published in 1866, Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Batavia, drew similarities between the Freemasons of Europe and the Chinese secret society Tiandihui through the use of their symbols and rituals. In this diagram from Tab. IV of the book, the Hung Gate (洪门; Hongmen) is the first of three symbolic gates that the initiate must pass through during the member initiation ceremony, in which initiates are introduced to the origins of the Tiandihui, its leaders and members as well as its rules and oaths. All rights reserved, Schlegel, G. (1866). Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India. Batavia: Lange & Co. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B29259841G.
William G. Stirling, Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931, and J.S.M. Ward co-authored this important three volume work on secret societies in Singapore. The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth was published between 1925 and 1926. Pictured here is the title page of Volume 1 with the colourful frontispiece titled “A Triad Plan of the Mystic Journey as Portrayed in the Arrangement of the Lodge”. On page 132 of the book is the “grand membership certificate” of the Ghee Hin Society. This impression was taken from the original “chop” that was seized when the society was declared illegal in 1890. Ghee Hin (“Rise of the Righteousness”) was regarded as the first secret society in Singapore and was formally registered in 1820. All rights reserved, Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession nos.: B02924365I [v. 1], B02924366J [v. 2], B02924367K [v. 3].
Also in the collection of the National Library is a set of unbound documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies in Penang in the mid- 1800s. The provenance of these documents is unclear; they were likely seized from various sources and kept at the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang. Shown here are membership certificates, notices, forms and receipts which were printed on white, yellow or red cloth. To make the documents unintelligible to non-members and confound the authorities, secret societies would rearrange the Chinese characters, create abbreviations or use ideograms. All rights reserved, Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang. (1867). Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B02461230G.
Published in 1900, The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association was written by William J. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong. The book contains reprints of articles originally written for The China Review in the late 1890s. Stanton was a Chinese speaker and was able to interact with triad members in Hong Kong when gathering information for his book. The cover design of the book represents the ritual flags placed in a peck, or wooden tub, of rice on the altar during the initiation ceremony. These flags represent the five lodges of the Hung Society. On page 72 of the book (pictured here) is a membership certificate of the Triad Society, which comprises a square enclosing an octagon. Printed within the latter is the verse composed by its five founders. The verse has been handed down and “used as a memorial and sign of membership”. Members had to carry the certificate with them at all times. All rights reserved, Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B18990109D.
Notes

Murray, D. H., & Qin, B. (1994).The origins of the Tiandihui: The Chinese triads in legend and history (p. 89). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. (Call no.: RCLOS 951 MUR-[GH])
Lim, I. (1999). Secret societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling collection (p. 10). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM)
Vaughan, J. D. (1974). The manners and customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements (p. 92). Singapore: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: RSING 390.0951 VAU-[CUS])
Freemasonry is a secular fraternal order, traditionally encompassing male members only and which traces its origins to ancient times. Members are taught the society’s principles through rituals and symbols, and although it is not a religious order, members are expected to follow certain rules of morality and spirituality.
Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s. Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951; Microfilm no.: NL 24374)
The Thian Ti Hwui was originally published as second of three studies by Gustave Schlegel in a single volume with the general title, Verhandelingen van het Bataviassch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, Deel XXXII. The other two works by Schlegel in this volume include the original editions of the Hoa Tsien Ki, of, Geschiedenis van het Gebloemde Briefpapier: Chinesche Roman (Dutch Translation of a Chinese Literary Work) and the Lets over De Prostitutie in China (Schlegel’s Study of Prostitution in China). The National Library’s copy of Thian Ti Hwui is also bound together with these two works.
[Chinese secret societies: A collection of manuscripts and documents relating to secret societies in Penang]. (1867). (Call no.: RRARE 364.10609595113 CHI; Microfilm no. NL 18296)
The full report, including testimonies from the 71 witnesses interviewed, was presented at the Straits Settlements Legislative Council in 1868.
Comber, L. (1959). Chinese secret societies in Malaya: A survey of the Triad Society from 1800−1900 (pp. 110−112). New York: Published for the Association for Asian Studies by J.J. Augustin. (Call no.: RCLOS 366.09595 COM-[GH]); Straits Settlements. (1868). Report of the Commissioners appointed under act XXI of 1867, to enquire into the Penang riots; Together with proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence and appendix (p. vi). Penang: Colonial Government of the Straits Settlements. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 1100)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 97.
Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WAR; Microfilm no.: NL 25414)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100.
Lim, 1999, p. 15.
Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 25923)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100.
Wynne, M. L. (1941). Triad and tabut: A survey of the origin and diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan secret societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D 1800–1935. Singapore: Government Printing Office. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WYN)
Wong, L. K., & Wong, C. S. (1960, March). Secret Societies in Malaya. Journal of Southeast Asian history, 1(1), 97–114, pp. 97–98. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.05 JSA-[SEA])
Features, Vol 13 Issue 2
Makeswary Periasamy
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Heaven, Earth and Brotherhood
By Makeswary Periasamy






Secret societies arrived on the back of mass migrations of Chinese to Asia in the colonial era. Makeswary Periasamy highlights the National Library’s collection of early books on Chinese triads.


The National Library’s Rare Materials Collection – which comprises a valuable collection of books and printed items from as early as the 15th century − has a number of works on secret societies and their activities in colonial outposts such as Riau, Batavia, Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong.

These works were mostly written by Western colonial officials working in the region, such as William A. Pickering, Gustave Schlegel, William Stanton, William G. Stirling and J.S.M. Ward. Most of these writers were proficient in the Chinese language and gathered information on secret societies from interviews with detained members, from perusing seized documents, and in the case of William A. Pickering, by observing the initiation ceremonies of secret society members.1

The works of these colonial writers focused mainly on the Chinese secret society Tiandihui (天地会) − the “society of the three united, Heaven, Earth and Man” − which originated in China’s Fujian province in the mid-1700s.2 The society was originally formed in China for the purpose of overthrowing the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and restoring the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) of ethnic Han Chinese.3 Secret societies, which started off in various parts of Asia ostensibly to provide financial aid and social support to newly arrived Chinese immigrants, trace their roots primarily to the Tiandihui in China.

Besides comparing the secret societies to the Freemason4 order of medieval England, the authors also describe the origins and governance of secret societies, initiation ceremonies for new members, secret society paraphernalia, the oaths and rites that bind the brotherhood through fictive kinship, as well as symbols and code words recognisable only to members.

Works from the 1800s
One of the earliest works on Chinese secret societies in the Rare Materials Collection is a study in German − Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s (1852) − by the Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger. He translated the term “Tiandihui” into German as “Himmel, Erde, Bruderschaft”, which means “Heaven, Earth, Brotherhood”.5

Between 1832 and 1842, Röttger worked as a missionary in Riau island in Indonesia, interacting with the 5,000-strong Chinese population there and learning the ways of the Tiandihui. Due to ill health, he left for Europe to recuperate but returned for a second stint between 1844 and 1845.

A comprehensive 19th-century study on the Tiandihui is Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India (1866) by Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia (or Dutch Indies as it was known then).6

After spending several years in China, Schlegel arrived in Batavia (now Jakarta) as a Chinese interpreter in 1862. Through his work, he was able to gather much information on secret societies. One year into his posting, Schlegel was asked to translate documents found in the home of a secret society member who had been arrested. He also had access to secret society materials seized by the Dutch colonial government, as well as two Chinese manuscripts detailing secret society rites and oaths. In 1866, Schlegel published his landmark study on the Tiandihui.

The National Library also has a set of unbound manuscripts and documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies that were influential in Penang in the mid-1800s. Known as the Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang,7 it likely came from the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang, which was set up to manage the affairs of Chinese migrants, including the supervision of secret societies (similar offices were also set up in Malacca and Singapore). Of particular importance is a document containing parts of the 1868 Penang Riots Commission Report.8

The Penang Riots of 1867 involved four secret societies: Ghee Hin Society (also known as Kian Tek), Toh Peh Kong Society, White Flag Society and Red Flag Society. The riots started on 3 August 1867 over a “trifling quarrel” that subsequently escalated and lasted for 10 days. A commission of enquiry was subsequently set up to investigate the cause of the riots.9

The Penang collection also includes William A. Pickering’s article on “Chinese Secret Societies” (1879), which describes a Tiandihui initiation ceremony he witnessed in Singapore. Pickering became the first Protector of the Chinese in Singapore in 1877, and he himself joined the Tiandihui. This was at a time when the Tiandihui was a registered de facto society in Singapore.10 Pickering’s fluency in Mandarin and Chinese dialects had helped him earn the trust of the Chinese.

Works from the 1900s


Three out of the five flags of ranks representing the five principal lodges of the Hung Society. Pictured here (from left to right) are the flags for Earl (伯), Baron (男) and Marquis (候). The other two ranks are Viscount (子) and Duke (公). All rights reserved, Lim, I. (1999). Secret Societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling Collection (p. 46). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM)

William G. Stirling was the Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931 when he co-authored the three-volume work, The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth (1925–26), with J.S.M. Ward, who had previously written on the subject of Freemasonry.11 In this publication, the authors attempted to prove that the Freemasons and Tiandihui shared common origins.12

Stirling, a Freemason himself and married to a Chinese, used Schlegel’s work as a basis to understand the secret societies he was dealing with. Stirling penned the first volume on the history of the Tiandihui, and explained in detail its initiation ceremonies and rituals. Ward wrote the other two volumes, comparing the Tiandihui’s ceremonies with those from other ancient cultures.

In Singapore, the Tiandihui took on the name Ghee Hin Kongsi (meaning “Rise of the Righteousness”), and became the first secret society to be formed here in 1820. In 1972, it further entrenched itself as a legitimate society with the purchase of a temple at No. 4 China Street.13 Although members paid annual and initiation fees, Stirling observed that revenue was also collected via illegal means such as gambling, opium sales and prostitution.

In 1890, when secret societies were declared illegal in Singapore following the enactment of the 1889 Societies Ordinance, most of the documents and paraphernalia belonging to the society were destroyed by the colonial authorities. Fortunately, a number of seals and certificates were salvaged and surrendered to the office of the Protector of the Chinese. These items are now part of the William Stirling Collection at the National Museum of Singapore.

The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association (1900) was originally written by William J. Stanton in the late 1890s as a series of journal articles. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong, could speak Chinese dialects and was instrumental in surpressing the activities of the secret societies.14

The publication provides a comprehensive overview of Hong Kong’s Triad Society – the Tien Ti Hin or the Heaven and Earth Association. Stanton reproduced in his book the membership certificates of 10 secret societies that he had collected all over Southeast Asia.15 In addition to translating and explaining the various seals used by the Triad Society, Stanton also described the methods used to verify the identity of a member. These included hand signs, code words, asking specific test questions (see below) as well as knowledge of certain arrangements of objects such as teacups.



The Rare Materials Collection’s most recent work on the Tiandihui is Triad and Tabut: A Survey of the Origin and Diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan Secret Societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D. 1800–1935 (1941).16 Printed for internal distribution and intended for use by government authorities only, it is based on an unfinished manuscript by Mervyn Llewelyn Wynne, a senior police officer in Penang.

Wynne reviewed the history and development of the Chinese and Malay secret societies in Malaya by collating all the earlier works. He completed the first part of his research in December 1936 but was unable to finish the work as he was killed at the start of the Japanese Occupation in 1942.

Although incomplete, Wynne’s work provides a comprehensive overview of secret societies in 19th-century Malaya and makes reference to many documents that are no longer available.17 The National Library holds a copy of the rare 1941 imprint as well as three copies of the 1957 re-issued version with a foreword by Wilfred L. Blythe, the former Colonial Secretary of Singapore.

In this 1852 German-language book on Chinese secret societies in Riau, Indonesia, Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger discusses the history, structure and initiation rituals of triads using information gleaned from interviews with society members and the local Chinese community. The pentagon-shaped seal of the Chinese secret society Tiandihui on page 11 of the book shows the five Chinese characters – 土 (earth), 木 (wood), 水 (water), 金 (metal) and 火 (fire) . These represent the five elements in Chinese philosophy. All rights reserved, Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B20032051B.
This illustration is taken from another seminal 19th-century work on secret societies in Indonesia. In his book written in English and published in 1866, Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Batavia, drew similarities between the Freemasons of Europe and the Chinese secret society Tiandihui through the use of their symbols and rituals. In this diagram from Tab. IV of the book, the Hung Gate (洪门; Hongmen) is the first of three symbolic gates that the initiate must pass through during the member initiation ceremony, in which initiates are introduced to the origins of the Tiandihui, its leaders and members as well as its rules and oaths. All rights reserved, Schlegel, G. (1866). Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India. Batavia: Lange & Co. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B29259841G.
William G. Stirling, Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931, and J.S.M. Ward co-authored this important three volume work on secret societies in Singapore. The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth was published between 1925 and 1926. Pictured here is the title page of Volume 1 with the colourful frontispiece titled “A Triad Plan of the Mystic Journey as Portrayed in the Arrangement of the Lodge”. On page 132 of the book is the “grand membership certificate” of the Ghee Hin Society. This impression was taken from the original “chop” that was seized when the society was declared illegal in 1890. Ghee Hin (“Rise of the Righteousness”) was regarded as the first secret society in Singapore and was formally registered in 1820. All rights reserved, Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession nos.: B02924365I [v. 1], B02924366J [v. 2], B02924367K [v. 3].
Also in the collection of the National Library is a set of unbound documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies in Penang in the mid- 1800s. The provenance of these documents is unclear; they were likely seized from various sources and kept at the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang. Shown here are membership certificates, notices, forms and receipts which were printed on white, yellow or red cloth. To make the documents unintelligible to non-members and confound the authorities, secret societies would rearrange the Chinese characters, create abbreviations or use ideograms. All rights reserved, Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang. (1867). Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B02461230G.
Published in 1900, The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association was written by William J. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong. The book contains reprints of articles originally written for The China Review in the late 1890s. Stanton was a Chinese speaker and was able to interact with triad members in Hong Kong when gathering information for his book. The cover design of the book represents the ritual flags placed in a peck, or wooden tub, of rice on the altar during the initiation ceremony. These flags represent the five lodges of the Hung Society. On page 72 of the book (pictured here) is a membership certificate of the Triad Society, which comprises a square enclosing an octagon. Printed within the latter is the verse composed by its five founders. The verse has been handed down and “used as a memorial and sign of membership”. Members had to carry the certificate with them at all times. All rights reserved, Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B18990109D.
Notes

Murray, D. H., & Qin, B. (1994).The origins of the Tiandihui: The Chinese triads in legend and history (p. 89). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. (Call no.: RCLOS 951 MUR-[GH])
Lim, I. (1999). Secret societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling collection (p. 10). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM)
Vaughan, J. D. (1974). The manners and customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements (p. 92). Singapore: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: RSING 390.0951 VAU-[CUS])
Freemasonry is a secular fraternal order, traditionally encompassing male members only and which traces its origins to ancient times. Members are taught the society’s principles through rituals and symbols, and although it is not a religious order, members are expected to follow certain rules of morality and spirituality.
Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s. Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951; Microfilm no.: NL 24374)
The Thian Ti Hwui was originally published as second of three studies by Gustave Schlegel in a single volume with the general title, Verhandelingen van het Bataviassch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, Deel XXXII. The other two works by Schlegel in this volume include the original editions of the Hoa Tsien Ki, of, Geschiedenis van het Gebloemde Briefpapier: Chinesche Roman (Dutch Translation of a Chinese Literary Work) and the Lets over De Prostitutie in China (Schlegel’s Study of Prostitution in China). The National Library’s copy of Thian Ti Hwui is also bound together with these two works.
[Chinese secret societies: A collection of manuscripts and documents relating to secret societies in Penang]. (1867). (Call no.: RRARE 364.10609595113 CHI; Microfilm no. NL 18296)
The full report, including testimonies from the 71 witnesses interviewed, was presented at the Straits Settlements Legislative Council in 1868.
Comber, L. (1959). Chinese secret societies in Malaya: A survey of the Triad Society from 1800−1900 (pp. 110−112). New York: Published for the Association for Asian Studies by J.J. Augustin. (Call no.: RCLOS 366.09595 COM-[GH]); Straits Settlements. (1868). Report of the Commissioners appointed under act XXI of 1867, to enquire into the Penang riots; Together with proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence and appendix (p. vi). Penang: Colonial Government of the Straits Settlements. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 1100)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 97.
Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WAR; Microfilm no.: NL 25414)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100.
Lim, 1999, p. 15.
Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 25923)
Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100.
Wynne, M. L. (1941). Triad and tabut: A survey of the origin and diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan secret societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D 1800–1935. Singapore: Government Printing Office. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WYN)
Wong, L. K., & Wong, C. S. (1960, March). Secret Societies in Malaya. Journal of Southeast Asian history, 1(1), 97–114, pp. 97–98. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.05 JSA-[SEA])
Features, Vol 13 Issue 2
Makeswary Periasamy
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ShareThis Copy and PasteOpen Menu Heaven, Earth and Brotherhood By Makeswary Periasamy Secret societies arrived on the back of mass migrations of Chinese to Asia in the colonial era. Makeswary Periasamy highlights the National Library’s collection of early books on Chinese triads. The National Library’s Rare Materials Collection – which comprises a valuable collection of books and printed items from as early as the 15th century − has a number of works on secret societies and their activities in colonial outposts such as Riau, Batavia, Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong. These works were mostly written by Western colonial officials working in the region, such as William A. Pickering, Gustave Schlegel, William Stanton, William G. Stirling and J.S.M. Ward. Most of these writers were proficient in the Chinese language and gathered information on secret societies from interviews with detained members, from perusing seized documents, and in the case of William A. Pickering, by observing the initiation ceremonies of secret society members.1 The works of these colonial writers focused mainly on the Chinese secret society Tiandihui (天地会) − the “society of the three united, Heaven, Earth and Man” − which originated in China’s Fujian province in the mid-1700s.2 The society was originally formed in China for the purpose of overthrowing the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and restoring the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) of ethnic Han Chinese.3 Secret societies, which started off in various parts of Asia ostensibly to provide financial aid and social support to newly arrived Chinese immigrants, trace their roots primarily to the Tiandihui in China. Besides comparing the secret societies to the Freemason4 order of medieval England, the authors also describe the origins and governance of secret societies, initiation ceremonies for new members, secret society paraphernalia, the oaths and rites that bind the brotherhood through fictive kinship, as well as symbols and code words recognisable only to members. Works from the 1800s One of the earliest works on Chinese secret societies in the Rare Materials Collection is a study in German − Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s (1852) − by the Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger. He translated the term “Tiandihui” into German as “Himmel, Erde, Bruderschaft”, which means “Heaven, Earth, Brotherhood”.5 Between 1832 and 1842, Röttger worked as a missionary in Riau island in Indonesia, interacting with the 5,000-strong Chinese population there and learning the ways of the Tiandihui. Due to ill health, he left for Europe to recuperate but returned for a second stint between 1844 and 1845. A comprehensive 19th-century study on the Tiandihui is Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India (1866) by Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia (or Dutch Indies as it was known then).6 After spending several years in China, Schlegel arrived in Batavia (now Jakarta) as a Chinese interpreter in 1862. Through his work, he was able to gather much information on secret societies. One year into his posting, Schlegel was asked to translate documents found in the home of a secret society member who had been arrested. He also had access to secret society materials seized by the Dutch colonial government, as well as two Chinese manuscripts detailing secret society rites and oaths. In 1866, Schlegel published his landmark study on the Tiandihui. The National Library also has a set of unbound manuscripts and documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies that were influential in Penang in the mid-1800s. Known as the Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang,7 it likely came from the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang, which was set up to manage the affairs of Chinese migrants, including the supervision of secret societies (similar offices were also set up in Malacca and Singapore). Of particular importance is a document containing parts of the 1868 Penang Riots Commission Report.8 The Penang Riots of 1867 involved four secret societies: Ghee Hin Society (also known as Kian Tek), Toh Peh Kong Society, White Flag Society and Red Flag Society. The riots started on 3 August 1867 over a “trifling quarrel” that subsequently escalated and lasted for 10 days. A commission of enquiry was subsequently set up to investigate the cause of the riots.9 The Penang collection also includes William A. Pickering’s article on “Chinese Secret Societies” (1879), which describes a Tiandihui initiation ceremony he witnessed in Singapore. Pickering became the first Protector of the Chinese in Singapore in 1877, and he himself joined the Tiandihui. This was at a time when the Tiandihui was a registered de facto society in Singapore.10 Pickering’s fluency in Mandarin and Chinese dialects had helped him earn the trust of the Chinese. Works from the 1900s Three out of the five flags of ranks representing the five principal lodges of the Hung Society. Pictured here (from left to right) are the flags for Earl (伯), Baron (男) and Marquis (候). The other two ranks are Viscount (子) and Duke (公). All rights reserved, Lim, I. (1999). Secret Societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling Collection (p. 46). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM) William G. Stirling was the Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931 when he co-authored the three-volume work, The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth (1925–26), with J.S.M. Ward, who had previously written on the subject of Freemasonry.11 In this publication, the authors attempted to prove that the Freemasons and Tiandihui shared common origins.12 Stirling, a Freemason himself and married to a Chinese, used Schlegel’s work as a basis to understand the secret societies he was dealing with. Stirling penned the first volume on the history of the Tiandihui, and explained in detail its initiation ceremonies and rituals. Ward wrote the other two volumes, comparing the Tiandihui’s ceremonies with those from other ancient cultures. In Singapore, the Tiandihui took on the name Ghee Hin Kongsi (meaning “Rise of the Righteousness”), and became the first secret society to be formed here in 1820. In 1972, it further entrenched itself as a legitimate society with the purchase of a temple at No. 4 China Street.13 Although members paid annual and initiation fees, Stirling observed that revenue was also collected via illegal means such as gambling, opium sales and prostitution. In 1890, when secret societies were declared illegal in Singapore following the enactment of the 1889 Societies Ordinance, most of the documents and paraphernalia belonging to the society were destroyed by the colonial authorities. Fortunately, a number of seals and certificates were salvaged and surrendered to the office of the Protector of the Chinese. These items are now part of the William Stirling Collection at the National Museum of Singapore. The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association (1900) was originally written by William J. Stanton in the late 1890s as a series of journal articles. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong, could speak Chinese dialects and was instrumental in surpressing the activities of the secret societies.14 The publication provides a comprehensive overview of Hong Kong’s Triad Society – the Tien Ti Hin or the Heaven and Earth Association. Stanton reproduced in his book the membership certificates of 10 secret societies that he had collected all over Southeast Asia.15 In addition to translating and explaining the various seals used by the Triad Society, Stanton also described the methods used to verify the identity of a member. These included hand signs, code words, asking specific test questions (see below) as well as knowledge of certain arrangements of objects such as teacups. The Rare Materials Collection’s most recent work on the Tiandihui is Triad and Tabut: A Survey of the Origin and Diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan Secret Societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D. 1800–1935 (1941).16 Printed for internal distribution and intended for use by government authorities only, it is based on an unfinished manuscript by Mervyn Llewelyn Wynne, a senior police officer in Penang. Wynne reviewed the history and development of the Chinese and Malay secret societies in Malaya by collating all the earlier works. He completed the first part of his research in December 1936 but was unable to finish the work as he was killed at the start of the Japanese Occupation in 1942. Although incomplete, Wynne’s work provides a comprehensive overview of secret societies in 19th-century Malaya and makes reference to many documents that are no longer available.17 The National Library holds a copy of the rare 1941 imprint as well as three copies of the 1957 re-issued version with a foreword by Wilfred L. Blythe, the former Colonial Secretary of Singapore. In this 1852 German-language book on Chinese secret societies in Riau, Indonesia, Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger discusses the history, structure and initiation rituals of triads using information gleaned from interviews with society members and the local Chinese community. The pentagon-shaped seal of the Chinese secret society Tiandihui on page 11 of the book shows the five Chinese characters – 土 (earth), 木 (wood), 水 (water), 金 (metal) and 火 (fire) . These represent the five elements in Chinese philosophy. All rights reserved, Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B20032051B. This illustration is taken from another seminal 19th-century work on secret societies in Indonesia. In his book written in English and published in 1866, Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Batavia, drew similarities between the Freemasons of Europe and the Chinese secret society Tiandihui through the use of their symbols and rituals. In this diagram from Tab. IV of the book, the Hung Gate (洪门; Hongmen) is the first of three symbolic gates that the initiate must pass through during the member initiation ceremony, in which initiates are introduced to the origins of the Tiandihui, its leaders and members as well as its rules and oaths. All rights reserved, Schlegel, G. (1866). Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India. Batavia: Lange & Co. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B29259841G. William G. Stirling, Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931, and J.S.M. Ward co-authored this important three volume work on secret societies in Singapore. The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth was published between 1925 and 1926. Pictured here is the title page of Volume 1 with the colourful frontispiece titled “A Triad Plan of the Mystic Journey as Portrayed in the Arrangement of the Lodge”. On page 132 of the book is the “grand membership certificate” of the Ghee Hin Society. This impression was taken from the original “chop” that was seized when the society was declared illegal in 1890. Ghee Hin (“Rise of the Righteousness”) was regarded as the first secret society in Singapore and was formally registered in 1820. All rights reserved, Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession nos.: B02924365I [v. 1], B02924366J [v. 2], B02924367K [v. 3]. Also in the collection of the National Library is a set of unbound documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies in Penang in the mid- 1800s. The provenance of these documents is unclear; they were likely seized from various sources and kept at the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang. Shown here are membership certificates, notices, forms and receipts which were printed on white, yellow or red cloth. To make the documents unintelligible to non-members and confound the authorities, secret societies would rearrange the Chinese characters, create abbreviations or use ideograms. All rights reserved, Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang. (1867). Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B02461230G. Published in 1900, The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association was written by William J. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong. The book contains reprints of articles originally written for The China Review in the late 1890s. Stanton was a Chinese speaker and was able to interact with triad members in Hong Kong when gathering information for his book. The cover design of the book represents the ritual flags placed in a peck, or wooden tub, of rice on the altar during the initiation ceremony. These flags represent the five lodges of the Hung Society. On page 72 of the book (pictured here) is a membership certificate of the Triad Society, which comprises a square enclosing an octagon. Printed within the latter is the verse composed by its five founders. The verse has been handed down and “used as a memorial and sign of membership”. Members had to carry the certificate with them at all times. All rights reserved, Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B18990109D. Notes Murray, D. H., & Qin, B. (1994).The origins of the Tiandihui: The Chinese triads in legend and history (p. 89). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. (Call no.: RCLOS 951 MUR-[GH]) Lim, I. (1999). Secret societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling collection (p. 10). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM) Vaughan, J. D. (1974). The manners and customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements (p. 92). Singapore: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: RSING 390.0951 VAU-[CUS]) Freemasonry is a secular fraternal order, traditionally encompassing male members only and which traces its origins to ancient times. Members are taught the society’s principles through rituals and symbols, and although it is not a religious order, members are expected to follow certain rules of morality and spirituality. Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s. Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951; Microfilm no.: NL 24374) The Thian Ti Hwui was originally published as second of three studies by Gustave Schlegel in a single volume with the general title, Verhandelingen van het Bataviassch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, Deel XXXII. The other two works by Schlegel in this volume include the original editions of the Hoa Tsien Ki, of, Geschiedenis van het Gebloemde Briefpapier: Chinesche Roman (Dutch Translation of a Chinese Literary Work) and the Lets over De Prostitutie in China (Schlegel’s Study of Prostitution in China). The National Library’s copy of Thian Ti Hwui is also bound together with these two works. [Chinese secret societies: A collection of manuscripts and documents relating to secret societies in Penang]. (1867). (Call no.: RRARE 364.10609595113 CHI; Microfilm no. NL 18296) The full report, including testimonies from the 71 witnesses interviewed, was presented at the Straits Settlements Legislative Council in 1868. Comber, L. (1959). Chinese secret societies in Malaya: A survey of the Triad Society from 1800−1900 (pp. 110−112). New York: Published for the Association for Asian Studies by J.J. Augustin. (Call no.: RCLOS 366.09595 COM-[GH]); Straits Settlements. (1868). Report of the Commissioners appointed under act XXI of 1867, to enquire into the Penang riots; Together with proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence and appendix (p. vi). Penang: Colonial Government of the Straits Settlements. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 1100) Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 97. Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WAR; Microfilm no.: NL 25414) Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100. Lim, 1999, p. 15. Stanton, W. J. (1900). The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association. Hong Kong: Printed by Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RRARE 366.0951 STA; Microfilm no.: NL 25923) Murray & Qin, 1994, p. 100. Wynne, M. L. (1941). Triad and tabut: A survey of the origin and diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan secret societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D 1800–1935. Singapore: Government Printing Office. (Call no.: RRARE 366.09595 WYN) Wong, L. K., & Wong, C. S. (1960, March). Secret Societies in Malaya. Journal of Southeast Asian history, 1(1), 97–114, pp. 97–98. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.05 JSA-[SEA]) Features, Vol 13 Issue 2 Makeswary Periasamy Share this post Post your Comment Comment Name * Email * Website Open Menu Heaven, Earth and Brotherhood By Makeswary Periasamy Secret societies arrived on the back of mass migrations of Chinese to Asia in the colonial era. Makeswary Periasamy highlights the National Library’s collection of early books on Chinese triads. The National Library’s Rare Materials Collection – which comprises a valuable collection of books and printed items from as early as the 15th century − has a number of works on secret societies and their activities in colonial outposts such as Riau, Batavia, Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong. These works were mostly written by Western colonial officials working in the region, such as William A. Pickering, Gustave Schlegel, William Stanton, William G. Stirling and J.S.M. Ward. Most of these writers were proficient in the Chinese language and gathered information on secret societies from interviews with detained members, from perusing seized documents, and in the case of William A. Pickering, by observing the initiation ceremonies of secret society members.1 The works of these colonial writers focused mainly on the Chinese secret society Tiandihui (天地会) − the “society of the three united, Heaven, Earth and Man” − which originated in China’s Fujian province in the mid-1700s.2 The society was originally formed in China for the purpose of overthrowing the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and restoring the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) of ethnic Han Chinese.3 Secret societies, which started off in various parts of Asia ostensibly to provide financial aid and social support to newly arrived Chinese immigrants, trace their roots primarily to the Tiandihui in China. Besides comparing the secret societies to the Freemason4 order of medieval England, the authors also describe the origins and governance of secret societies, initiation ceremonies for new members, secret society paraphernalia, the oaths and rites that bind the brotherhood through fictive kinship, as well as symbols and code words recognisable only to members. Works from the 1800s One of the earliest works on Chinese secret societies in the Rare Materials Collection is a study in German − Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s (1852) − by the Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger. He translated the term “Tiandihui” into German as “Himmel, Erde, Bruderschaft”, which means “Heaven, Earth, Brotherhood”.5 Between 1832 and 1842, Röttger worked as a missionary in Riau island in Indonesia, interacting with the 5,000-strong Chinese population there and learning the ways of the Tiandihui. Due to ill health, he left for Europe to recuperate but returned for a second stint between 1844 and 1845. A comprehensive 19th-century study on the Tiandihui is Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India (1866) by Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia (or Dutch Indies as it was known then).6 After spending several years in China, Schlegel arrived in Batavia (now Jakarta) as a Chinese interpreter in 1862. Through his work, he was able to gather much information on secret societies. One year into his posting, Schlegel was asked to translate documents found in the home of a secret society member who had been arrested. He also had access to secret society materials seized by the Dutch colonial government, as well as two Chinese manuscripts detailing secret society rites and oaths. In 1866, Schlegel published his landmark study on the Tiandihui. The National Library also has a set of unbound manuscripts and documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies that were influential in Penang in the mid-1800s. Known as the Chinese Secret Societies: A Collection of Manuscripts and Documents Relating to Secret Societies in Penang,7 it likely came from the office of the Chinese Protectorate in Penang, which was set up to manage the affairs of Chinese migrants, including the supervision of secret societies (similar offices were also set up in Malacca and Singapore). Of particular importance is a document containing parts of the 1868 Penang Riots Commission Report.8 The Penang Riots of 1867 involved four secret societies: Ghee Hin Society (also known as Kian Tek), Toh Peh Kong Society, White Flag Society and Red Flag Society. The riots started on 3 August 1867 over a “trifling quarrel” that subsequently escalated and lasted for 10 days. A commission of enquiry was subsequently set up to investigate the cause of the riots.9 The Penang collection also includes William A. Pickering’s article on “Chinese Secret Societies” (1879), which describes a Tiandihui initiation ceremony he witnessed in Singapore. Pickering became the first Protector of the Chinese in Singapore in 1877, and he himself joined the Tiandihui. This was at a time when the Tiandihui was a registered de facto society in Singapore.10 Pickering’s fluency in Mandarin and Chinese dialects had helped him earn the trust of the Chinese. Works from the 1900s Three out of the five flags of ranks representing the five principal lodges of the Hung Society. Pictured here (from left to right) are the flags for Earl (伯), Baron (男) and Marquis (候). The other two ranks are Viscount (子) and Duke (公). All rights reserved, Lim, I. (1999). Secret Societies in Singapore: Featuring the William Stirling Collection (p. 46). Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore History Museum. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 LIM) William G. Stirling was the Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931 when he co-authored the three-volume work, The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth (1925–26), with J.S.M. Ward, who had previously written on the subject of Freemasonry.11 In this publication, the authors attempted to prove that the Freemasons and Tiandihui shared common origins.12 Stirling, a Freemason himself and married to a Chinese, used Schlegel’s work as a basis to understand the secret societies he was dealing with. Stirling penned the first volume on the history of the Tiandihui, and explained in detail its initiation ceremonies and rituals. Ward wrote the other two volumes, comparing the Tiandihui’s ceremonies with those from other ancient cultures. In Singapore, the Tiandihui took on the name Ghee Hin Kongsi (meaning “Rise of the Righteousness”), and became the first secret society to be formed here in 1820. In 1972, it further entrenched itself as a legitimate society with the purchase of a temple at No. 4 China Street.13 Although members paid annual and initiation fees, Stirling observed that revenue was also collected via illegal means such as gambling, opium sales and prostitution. In 1890, when secret societies were declared illegal in Singapore following the enactment of the 1889 Societies Ordinance, most of the documents and paraphernalia belonging to the society were destroyed by the colonial authorities. Fortunately, a number of seals and certificates were salvaged and surrendered to the office of the Protector of the Chinese. These items are now part of the William Stirling Collection at the National Museum of Singapore. The Triad Society: Or, Heaven and Earth Association (1900) was originally written by William J. Stanton in the late 1890s as a series of journal articles. Stanton, a British police officer in Hong Kong, could speak Chinese dialects and was instrumental in surpressing the activities of the secret societies.14 The publication provides a comprehensive overview of Hong Kong’s Triad Society – the Tien Ti Hin or the Heaven and Earth Association. Stanton reproduced in his book the membership certificates of 10 secret societies that he had collected all over Southeast Asia.15 In addition to translating and explaining the various seals used by the Triad Society, Stanton also described the methods used to verify the identity of a member. These included hand signs, code words, asking specific test questions (see below) as well as knowledge of certain arrangements of objects such as teacups. The Rare Materials Collection’s most recent work on the Tiandihui is Triad and Tabut: A Survey of the Origin and Diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan Secret Societies in the Malay Peninsula A.D. 1800–1935 (1941).16 Printed for internal distribution and intended for use by government authorities only, it is based on an unfinished manuscript by Mervyn Llewelyn Wynne, a senior police officer in Penang. Wynne reviewed the history and development of the Chinese and Malay secret societies in Malaya by collating all the earlier works. He completed the first part of his research in December 1936 but was unable to finish the work as he was killed at the start of the Japanese Occupation in 1942. Although incomplete, Wynne’s work provides a comprehensive overview of secret societies in 19th-century Malaya and makes reference to many documents that are no longer available.17 The National Library holds a copy of the rare 1941 imprint as well as three copies of the 1957 re-issued version with a foreword by Wilfred L. Blythe, the former Colonial Secretary of Singapore. In this 1852 German-language book on Chinese secret societies in Riau, Indonesia, Dutch missionary E. H. Röttger discusses the history, structure and initiation rituals of triads using information gleaned from interviews with society members and the local Chinese community. The pentagon-shaped seal of the Chinese secret society Tiandihui on page 11 of the book shows the five Chinese characters – 土 (earth), 木 (wood), 水 (water), 金 (metal) and 火 (fire) . These represent the five elements in Chinese philosophy. All rights reserved, Röttger, E. H. (1852). Geschichte der brüderschaft des himmels und der erden: Der communistischen propaganda China’s Berlin: In Commission bel Wilhlelm Hertz. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B20032051B. This illustration is taken from another seminal 19th-century work on secret societies in Indonesia. In his book written in English and published in 1866, Gustave Schlegel, an interpreter with the Dutch colonial government in Batavia, drew similarities between the Freemasons of Europe and the Chinese secret society Tiandihui through the use of their symbols and rituals. In this diagram from Tab. IV of the book, the Hung Gate (洪门; Hongmen) is the first of three symbolic gates that the initiate must pass through during the member initiation ceremony, in which initiates are introduced to the origins of the Tiandihui, its leaders and members as well as its rules and oaths. All rights reserved, Schlegel, G. (1866). Thian Ti Hwui: The Hung-League or Heaven-Earth-League, a Secret Society with the Chinese in China and India. Batavia: Lange & Co. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession no.: B29259841G. William G. Stirling, Assistant Protector of the Chinese in Singapore between 1921 and 1931, and J.S.M. Ward co-authored this important three volume work on secret societies in Singapore. The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth was published between 1925 and 1926. Pictured here is the title page of Volume 1 with the colourful frontispiece titled “A Triad Plan of the Mystic Journey as Portrayed in the Arrangement of the Lodge”. On page 132 of the book is the “grand membership certificate” of the Ghee Hin Society. This impression was taken from the original “chop” that was seized when the society was declared illegal in 1890. Ghee Hin (“Rise of the Righteousness”) was regarded as the first secret society in Singapore and was formally registered in 1820. All rights reserved, Ward, J. S. M., & Stirling, W. G. (1925–1926). The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth. London: The Baskerville Press. Collection of the National Library, Singapore, Accession nos.: B02924365I [v. 1], B02924366J [v. 2], B02924367K [v. 3]. Also in the collection of the National Library is a set of unbound documents – in English and Chinese – pertaining to various secret societies in Penang in the mid- 1800s. The provenance of these

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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cultural Criminals - TRIADS - Secret Societies : Inside the Freemasons, the Yakuza, Skull and Bones, and the World's Most Notorious Secret Organizations (2000) - by John Lawrence

Secret Societies: Inside the Freemasons, the Yakuza, Skull and Bones, and the World's Most Notorious Secret Organizations by John Lawrence Reynolds
They generate fear, suspicion, and—above all—fascination. Secret societies thrive among us, yet they remain shrouded in mystery. Their secrecy suggests, to many, sacrilege or crime, and their loyalties are often accused of undermining governments and tipping the scales of justice. The Freemasons, for example, hold more seats of power in the U.S. government than any other organization. No fewer than sixteen presidents have declared their Masonic affiliation, and there may have been more. Secret societies have infiltrated pop culture as well. Celebrity members of Kabbalah include Madonna, Demi Moore, and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.
From the Mafia and the Yakuza to the Priory of Sion, Skull and Bones and the Templars, Reynolds offers an illuminating and entertaining exploration of the stories—confirmed and fabricated—that surround these societies, as well as provides detailed information on their origins, initiations, rituals, and secret signs. Dispelling myths and providing gripping revelations—such as a direct historical link between the Assassins of the Middle Ages and today’s Al Qaeda—Secret Societies gives us a smart, surprising look at the best known and often least understood covert organizations.

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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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