Triad Society

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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'ingCh'ing
or Manchu
, the last of the Imperial dynasties of China. Background

The Ch'ing dynasty was established by the Manchus, who invaded China and captured Beijing in 1644, and lasted until 1911.
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 dynasty and to restore the native Chinese MingMing
, dynasty of China that ruled from 1368 to 1644. The first Ming emperor, Chu Yüan-chang (ruled 1368–98), a former Buddhist monk, joined a rebellion in progress, gained control of it, overthrew the Mongol Yüan dynasty, and unified all of China proper.
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 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 RebellionTaiping Rebellion,
1850–64, revolt against the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty of China. It was led by Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, a visionary from Guangdong who evolved a political creed and messianic religious ideology influenced by elements of Protestant Christianity.
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 (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-senSun Yat-sen
, Mandarin Sun Wen, 1866–1925, Chinese revolutionary. He was born near Guangzhou into a farm-owning family. He attended (1879–82) an Anglican boys school in Honolulu, where he came under Western influence, particularly that of Christianity.
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 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 RebellionWhite Lotus Rebellion,
Chinese anti-Manchu uprising that occurred during the Ch'ing dynasty. It broke out (1796) among impoverished settlers in the mountainous region that separates Sichuan prov. from Hubei and Shaanxi provs.
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; Boxer UprisingBoxer Uprising,
1898–1900, antiforeign movement in China, culminating in a desperate uprising against Westerners and Western influence.

By the end of the 19th cent. the Western powers and Japan had established wide interests in China.
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Triad Society


(also Hung society or San Ho Hui), any of the numerous anti-Manchurian secret societies that were active from the 18th to the early 20th century in southern and southeastern China. The Triad societies were clandestine organizations whose membership ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand persons; they included peasants, artisans, merchants, and declasse elements of Chinese society, as well as individual anti-Manchurian landowners and members of the shen-shih class. The societies maintained a local character, and each had its own name. While their activities were not coordinated, the Triad societies had a common slogan: “Overthrow the [Manchurian] Ch’ing dynasty, restore the [Chinese] Ming dynasty.” The Triad societies supplied the organization and leadership for many popular uprisings against Manchurian rule in various regions of southern and southeastern China.


Tainye obshchestva v starom Kitae. Moscow, 1970. [26–571–1 ]
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