Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

Get access

Secret Societies
(1,871 words)

In contemporary Chinese context, "secret societies" (modern: mimi shehui, traditionally: huidang; Japanese: himitsu shakai) refers above all to the Triads (sandian hui, sanhe hui)-also known as the Heaven and Earth Society (tiandi hui) and hongmen and the Society of Brothers and Elders (gelao hui). It is much less common to use this designation for new religious groups (sects), such as the White Lotus (bailian jiao). Research into secret societies has always struggled to distinguish between truth and fiction. What is nowadays known to be fiction exerted almo…

Cite this page
Haar, Barend ter, “Secret Societies”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 03 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

▲   Back to top   ▲