Jan 17, 2018

Hong Kong Triads - A Historical Overview

 

Jackie Chan movies have made the Hong Kong Triads infamous around the world, and yet the layperson knows very little about these shadowy groups. The violence and criminality of these gangs’ operations ensured that they hugged the margins, remaining just out of sight of the police and the public.

 

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They did, however, partake of esoteric initiation ceremonies involving incense, flags, pennants, fans, sacred oaths, and even animal sacrifice... vivid images blazoned upon the minds of any fan of Cantonese Hong Kong-made gangster films, says Jason Wordie.

 

Jason Wordie: Historian, Writer, Lecturer

 

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An established local historian and writer, Jason has made his home in the New Territories for over twenty-five years now. Jason is a History graduate from the University of Hong Kong, and served as a Council Member of the Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong Branch, for some years. He also served in the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) from 1990-1992.

Jason’s books include Macao – People and Places, Past and Present, published by Angsana Ltd in 2013; Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island, published by Hong Kong University Press in 2002 and its companion volume Streets: Exploring Kowloon, published 2007 by Hong Kong University Press.

For more than eighteen years, Jason has had a series of regular columns in the South China Morning Post. His current column, Then and Now, appears every week in the Sunday Morning Post’s Post Magazine.

A sought-after lecturer on a variety of Asia-focused historical subjects, Jason skilfully combines detailed, breadth-in-depth historical information with a light, anecdotal touch.

 

The Triads’ Transforming Rituals

 

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“Old-style triad initiation rituals largely died out decades ago in Hong Kong,” says Jason in a recent column in the Post Magazine (December 16, 2017). Indeed, a “triad initiation ceremony recently raided by Hong Kong police in Kowloon resulted in the seizure of old-style ritual paraphernalia. Police said it was the first time in more than a decade that a complex ceremony of this kind had been uncovered; some officers noted that they had not seen such detailed rituals in their careers.”

 

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To a large extent, the reason why these rituals became less elaborate over time is simple.

Initially, all messages and information about these rituals were passed on orally. With increased literacy and increased penetration of technology, written instructions and telephonic communication became common.

 

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These newer forms of communication were susceptible to interception by police. What’s more, police radio communication also meant that once an initiation was identified, police could muster units from various stations around the target, reinforcements reaching much faster and more prepared for action than they had earlier.

In essence, this meant that the triads didn’t have time to set up and perform their elaborately staged rituals in an era of instant communication.

Jason Wordie has drawn on a wealth of scholarly works about the Triads, primarily written by former policemen who specialised in anti-triad work in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore.

 

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Mozaic Club and Jason Wordie

We at Mozaic Club found this subject fascinating, and were eager to share it with our friends and members! That’s why we’ve invited Jason to address us this month on the Triads, their evolution, their geographic adaptations, and more.

In this talk, Jason will address members of Mozaic Club and explore exactly what a Triad is in contemporary Chinese society – and what it is not – and how the Triad Societies evolved in China from Ming loyalists in the early Manchu period onwards towards the Republican era and the present day. Illustrated detail will be given of Triad ritual and mythology, and some discussion will be made of their pervasive role in contemporary local life.

 

The talk will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 in the Sunset Room, level 4 of Le Meridian, Cyberport, starting at 7:30pm to be followed by a four-course dinner and drinks.

 

For Member:  Join Now

 

For Non-member: Buy your tickets on Eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.hk/e/the-history-of-triads-a-talk-by-jason-wordie-tickets-41861362462?aff=eac2

 

##mozaic #HKTriads #JasonWordie

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