Malaysia Chinese Secret Society "Hong Men" Identification Tokens. Set Of 6 Pieces.(2)

Rarity: RRRR

The secret societies in Singapore and Malaysia formed part of the local society and there were certainly differences and similarities between these societies and Tian Di Hui in China. However, it was clear that Tian Di Hui in China had profound influence on the secret societies in Southeast Asia. In aspects ranging from organizational structure and management model to gang rituals as well as forms of secret codes, waist bands and tokens for proof authentication, the impacts of Tian Di Hui were evident. Hong Men started in early Qing but by the time of Republic of China, it was no more a secret society. Nevertheless, it still practised the proof authentication system and the communications tokens were still a way for the organization to safeguard its survival. The secret societies in Singapore and Malaya had produced six pieces of “Hong Men Money”. These pieces of so-called money had a spherical shape with a square hole in the centre and they looked like the Chinese coins. They were however not real coins. In fact, they were ‘Hong Men Tokens” with the function of representing the posts held by the bearers in the organization or serving as evidence of the bearers’ identities. These six pieces of token money were made according to the copper templates while the material used for casting was tin alloy obtained locally. The hidden meanings of and the identities represented by these six pieces of token money are explained in the following paragraphs.

(1) Hong (year title of Ming Tai Zu) Hong (grand) Hong (red) Hong (rainbow) / sheng (victory) (洪宏红虹/ 胜)

Hong Men was also known as “Hong Bang” (洪帮, Hong Gang) and since “Hong” (洪, year title of Ming Tai Zu) was also used interchangeably with “Hong” (红, red), the organization was also called “Red Gang”. In addition, the word “zhu” (朱) also means red and the name of Red Gang was also regarded as a reference to Zhu Yuan Zhang (朱元璋), the real name of Emperor Ming Tai Zu. Documents of Tian Di Hui had mentioned: “With a red band in hand, wrap it on the head before we go to visit the hero.” The identity of the bearer represented was that of a ‘xiang zu” (香主, fragrant master), also known as “long tou” (龙头, dragon head) or “hei gun” (黑棍, black stick).

Code name: four eight nine, because four plus eight plus nine makes 21, the number of strokes making up the Chinese character “hong” (洪).

(2) Hong Men Bang Hui (Hong Men Gang) / Tian Xia Lai Gui (All Things under Heaven Come Together) (洪门帮会/ 天下来归)

This represents “deputy fragrant master” (副香主) or “second commander” (二路元帅).

Code name: four three eight, because four plus three plus eight makes 15, signifying 15 ancestors in Hong Men, i.e. five ancestors (五祖) at the front, five ancestors in the centre and five ancestors at the back. The Chinese character “hong” (洪) has three strokes on the left and eight strokes on the right, thus” three eight”. At the Yi Xin Company headquarters in Singapore, there was a She Gong Temple (社公庙) with a shrine for the worship of five ancestors who were also known as “Go Foo” or Five Tigers (五虎). The ancestral hall was also called “Go Foo Ancestral Hall” (五虎祠) and was opened for worshipping by members of the company.

(3) Hong Men Xiong Di (Hong Men Brothers) / Hu Xiang Fu Chi (Supporting Each Other) (洪门兄弟/ 互相扶持)

This represents enforcement supervisor, also called “Hong Gun” or Red Stick (红棍).

Code name: four two six, because four times 26 gives 108, referring to the 108 heroes of Liang Shan (梁山). In respect of penalty enforcement, this refers to 36 heavenly gods and 72 hell devils, adding up to 108.

(4) Yi Xin Gong Si (Yi Xin Company) / Ge Lu Ping An (Safety in Various Roads) (义兴公司 / 各路平安)

This represents the chief taking charge of internal affairs who was called “white fan” (白扇) or “military advisor” (军师) or “counselor” (师爷). In a more refined way, he was also addressed as “Sir” (先生). In times of dealings with external parties or planning for armed clashes, he was responsible for strategizing and mobilizing the members.

Code name: four one five, because four times 15 and plus four gives 64, representing the “ba gua” (八卦), indicating that the bearer was the one dealing with strategies.

(5) Hong Shun Tang Ling (Order of Hong Shun Hall) / Three Eight Twenty-one (洪顺堂令/三八廿一)

Hong Shun Hall was a section of Hong Men responsible for communications and dispatching letters. As the leader involved had to walk around to contact other sections, he was thus called “straw sandal” (草鞋).

(6) Jin Lan She Yong (For use by Jin Lan Society) / Yi Bao Yun Tian (High Morality Reaching the Clouds) (金兰社用 / 义薄云天)

Jin Lan Society was also a branch of Hong Men.

(The author is founding president of Numismatic Society (Asia),now serving as advisor to the society.)
(English translation by Ling Boo Chong) 

To Be Continued...................


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