The subtitle of this book, published in 1947 and now long out of print, is CHINESE SECRET SOCIETIES—PAST AND PRESENT. Just of interest for those who don’t grasp the importance and meaning of Kung Fu in Chinese society, we point to this text outlining the crucial role of the Hung League in the creation of the New China, the election of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the rise of Chiang Kai Shek, the betrayal of the Republic by its first president and much more.
This powerful, world spanning influence which some people think of as having inspired the Mafia and other secret brotherhoods in the West, organizations of similar sway and import, is wonderfully exhibited in the following story…
The Triad Society used many symbols to promote their revolutionary agenda. Some of these were baked into the beautiful “Willow Design” of plates most of which were ultimately destroyed by the Manchu government. Some survived in, of all places, Britain where they became a popular pattern without anyone in the West knowing the meaning of the symbology. For instance, quoting the text:
‘On the island, representing heaven, the pagoda is symbolic of “The Red Flower Pavillion” where the Five Ancestors rested after escaping the Shao-Lin monastery. The peach tree above the pagoda symbolizes the tree under which the Three Brothers swore their oath upon which the Triad is based. The fir and cypress remind the Triad members of the Elder Brother Wan Yun-Lung, by whose tomb grew a fir and cypress. The burning building in the upper corner represents the burning of the Shao-Lin monastery. But other symbols, the boat, the two doves and the gates remain to be explained. This is all made clear in the ritual and initiations ceremony of “The Triad Society”.’
There is much more to this but, ironically, everything is made clear on the very front page of the book where one of the authors, Hong Sheng-Hwa—himself a scholar and teacher who translated documents into English for the first time to write SOS—has inscribed there for all to see the name of the book in Chinese. Swords of Silence? Not at all, instead we have 洪門史話 Hong Men Shi Hua; A Historical Narrative of the Hung League.
Poe was right, things are best hid in plain sight.