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Origin Of The Chinese Triads Essay

1268 words - 5 pages

Although in modern times, the Triads are mostly associated with criminal activity, they originated as mutual support organizations for people at the bottom of the social hierarchy and to defend the common people from those of positions in power "to offer unacquainted people the kind of protection and mutual aid normally afforded by family members" (Murray 178). How they began has been agreed back and forth for many years and lots of theories have come up. However it is generally accepted that the Triads were established during the fall of the Ching dynasty, even thought there are some that argue that the Triads date as back as the Han dynasty. It is also accepted that it was the Chinese who developed the Triads to rebel against the Manchus and foreign traders from Europe.
The Mandate of Heaven is an important tradition that dates back to the Chou dynasty who established this concept to justify their hostile take over of the Shang dynasty. When all was at peace and China was prospering, the people recognized that the Emperor held the Mandate of Heaven, during this time secret societies like the Triads were not needed and dramatically lost power. However, as the dynasty progressed and the Emperor¡¦s rule lessened and corruption increased, support for the secret societies increased until it got so big that revolts occurred the eventually the former dynasty was ended and a new one formed in its place.
Predominately, two theories have stuck out from the rest as the most likely theories of the rest. One theory is that they were secret organizations established by radical Chinese who recognized that the Ching was losing the Mandate of Heaven and so they organized rebellions against the Ching. The other theory states that it was the survivors of a massacre organized by the Ching Emperor, five disgruntled Shaolin monks that went into hiding and established several secret societies to rebel against the Ching (Liu 20).
As Manchuria was not part of China, when they took over the Ming dynasty and established the Ching dynasty, many Chinese resented them because they were foreign and also because their standard of living is higher than that of a common Chinese family (wReflexes). Another reason that the Ching rulers were looked down upon was because during Ching rule, a lot of foreign powers came into China and because China wasn¡¦t as technologically advanced, the Europeans easily took over parts of China including Guangzhou and Hong Kong. This caused many Chinese to hate the Ching and look down on them as being weak and making the rest of China weak.
Many of the men that established the Triads were once soldiers for the Imperial Army of the Ming Dynasty, but when the Ming surrendered to the Manchurian invaders, the survivors of the wars ¡§formed small pockets of armed resistance¡¨ (Liu 21). However they were forced to go underground because the newly established Ching rulers were really harsh and stated that those not loyal to the Ching will be...

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