Welcome back to our feature about the Chinese-influenced Triad organisation. We described the early history in Part One up to their virtual expulsion from the Chinese mainland under communism and the rise of the Triad in Hong Kong.
Unlike the Japanese Yakuza, the Triads have a relatively simple organisational structure. It’s largely a top down effort and each rank of membership is given a number as well as a traditional name. Other numbers also exist outside the structure, including “25″, which refers to a spy from some other organisation. Of course this is the structure that each separate Triad group is comprised of so there are many different “Dragon Heads” for example.
What is similar to the Japanese Yakuza however is a relatively elaborate initiation ritual. A new recruit will attend a ceremony involving incense at an altar and an animal (possibly a pig or goat) will be sacrificed as an offering to Guan Yu (a legendary early 1st century Chinese general).
Also like the Yakuza a mixture, this time of blood and wine, is drunk. Sometimes the blood is the animal’s, sometimes the initiates. The oaths to the Triad organisation are written on a piece of paper and burnt and the candidate recites these oaths while passing through an archway of ceremonial swords. As the oaths are burnt on the altar, the initiate raises three fingers on his right hand to confirm his adherence to them. There are currently thirty six Triad oaths and below is a list of the first ten – the rest are listed at many internet sites:
As an Asian group, the Triads are somewhat limited by their features when expanding into other countries. They are reasonably active in countries with a sizeable immigrant population such as the United States and United Kingdom and are notorious people smugglers. Closer to home they are increasingly active in mainland China following economic liberalisation there and also in Taiwan.