The Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads

Creating an Identity


The extensive ritual and mythological lore of the Chinese Triads form the scope of this new paperback in Brill’s Scholar’s List. In it the reader will find a critical evaluation of the extant sources together with a true wealth of context.
The core of the book is formed by a close reading of the initiation ritual, including the burning of incense, the altar, the enactment of a journey of life and death, and the blood covenant. Different narrative structures are also presented. These include the messianic demonological paradigm, political legitimation, and the foundation of myth.
Triad lore is placed in its own religious and cultural context, allowing radically new conclusions about its origins, meanings and functions. This book is of special interest to social historians, anthropologists, and students of Chinese religious culture.


EUR €231.00USD $286.00

Biographical Note

Barend J. ter Haar, Doctorate (1990) in Sinology, University of Leiden. Professor of the Social and Economic History of China at the University of Heidelberg. Has published on religious culture, traditional violence, Triads and sects, including The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History (Brill, 1992).

Review Quotes

"This massive, exhaustive, one-of-a-kind scholarly masterpiece is truly a tour de force, a work so impressive in its scope and attention to fine detail as to be indispensable to libraries and scholars in the field of sinology." – Michael Saso, in: China Review International, 2004 "Barend J. ter Haar's latest book is a breathtaking work of scholarship, charting new directions in the study of Chinese secret societies by grounding them in a sophisticated understanding of local popular and religious culture. If it is hardly the last word on this complex topic, no future work on secret societies, sectarian religion, or popular movements can afford to ignore this volume." – David Ownby, in: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 2000


Those interested in late imperial China's social and religious history, Chinese Triads, local ritual traditions, charter myths, as well as anthropologists, Asian administrators and overseas Chinese, and martial arts practitioners.