Why are Chinese Gangs Called Triads?

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


If you read the news, or watch any sort of crime drama, you are sure to have heard the term 'triad' at some point. It refers to one of the many branches of the Chinese organized crime organization that stretches all over the world. It's a term akin to 'mob', 'gang' or 'mafia'.

But why the word 'triad'?

According to sources (see below), the word is a relatively modern term to describe this organization. Allegedly, the British authorities in Hong Kong coined the term in reference to a triangular symbol that was being consistently used by the gangs. This symbol stretches back to The Society of Heaven and Earth or Tiandihui (created in the mid 1700s and considered my many to be the inception of the current crime organization) used on their banners and flags. 

Check out the following websites to learn more about this organization: 14 Things You Didn't Know About the Triads and Triads and Organized Crime in China.