Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Freemasonry in Asia

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Freemasonry in Asia

This is a general survey on the historical and modern presence of Freemasonry in countries located in Asia.



The Grand Lodge of Armenia is a national organization, supervising Freemasonry in Armenia. It was consecrated in 2002 by representatives of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, the Grande Loge Nationale Française and the Grand Lodge of Russia.

The Grand Lodge of Armenia is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.


Freemasonry in China is outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party. The Grand Lodge of China (in Taiwan) was founded in 1949, it has 10 lodges with 750 members and is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.


Freemasonry was introduced to India in the 1730s by the English. The fraternity remained under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England through the colonial era. An independent Grand Lodge of India was founded in 1961. As of February 2011, it has 370 lodges spread across India with more than 14,900 members and is recognised by UGLE.

The Confederation of United Grand Lodges of India was founded in 2001 and is recognised by the Grand Lodge of Belgium.


The Grand Lodge of Iran, established in 1969 in Tehran, existed in the country prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, hosted membership from various political figures, including former prime minister Jafar Sharif-Emami (who served as the lodge's grand master at one point), and branched to 43 Lodges and at least 1,035 members. Since the Revolution, Freemasonry has been banned in Iran; a "Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile" is currently established in Los Angeles, where the local Grand Lodge approved its practice in 1985.


The Grand Lodge of the State of Israel was founded in 1953, it has 53 lodges with 2000 members and is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.

Le Droit Humain also has an Israeli jurisdiction founded in 1989.


Freemasonry in Japan first began with the opening of trade with foreign countries occasioned by Commodore Perry's Black Ships in 1866. Prior to World War II, several Grand Lodges had subordinate Lodges there, including those of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Most went dark as the war loomed. After World War II, the Grand Lodge of the Philippines charted new Lodges throughout the country.

The Grand Lodge of Japan was founded in 1957, it has 18 lodges with 2500 members and is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.

Le Droit Humain has a lodge in Tokyo, the lodge "Soleil Levant" founded in 2008 and working at the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in French.


In late 1907 and early 1908 a number of Freemasons then residing in Korea undertook to establish the first Masonic Lodge on the Peninsula. A Charter was issued by the Grand Lodge of Scotland on November 5, 1908, and the name Han Yang, one of the ancient names for the capital city, was chosen to designate the new Lodge. The members were initially merchants, miners, and missionaries from Lodge Hyogo and Osaka 498 in Japan; occupations that represented most of the foreign population in what was then known as Chosun. In addition to Lodge Han Yang, there are three other lodges on the Korean Peninsula: Lodge Pusan and Lodge Harry S. Truman (on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland) and MacArthur Lodge (under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Philippines). MacArthur Lodge currently holds meetings on the United States military base located within Seoul. Furthermore, numerous Prince Hall Freemasonry Lodges from the MWPHGL of Washington and Jurisdiction (and other PHA Grand Lodges) meet on various United States military bases throughout the country, including II Corinthians #96 at USAG Yongsan in Seoul, Sprig of Acacia #93 at Camp Casey, and Billy G. Miller #43 (MWPHGL Oklahoma) at Camp Humphreys.


There are a number of different unrecognized Grand Lodges and Grand Orients in Lebanon. Grand Lodges include the Grand Orient de Canaan the Grande Loge Centrale du Liban, the Grande Loge de Cèdres, the Grand Orient Arabe, and the Grande Loge Bet-El, all in the tradition of Continental Freemasonry. There are also UGLE Recognised lodges active in Lebanon (such as the Lodges operating under the District Grand Lodge of Syria and Lebanon, which is chartered by the Grand Lodge of New York, Lodges operating under the Grand District of Lebanon, under the Grand Lodge of Scotland and a lodge under the Grand lodge of Washington DC.


Freemasonry started in Malaysia 180 years ago and was first established on the island of Penang. There are freemason lodges in all states in Malaysia except Terengganu, Kelantan and Perlis. The largest freemason lodge in Malaysia will be located in Bukit Jalil.


Freemasonry was introduced to Pakistan during the era of the British empire. Masonic organisations continued in the country until they were completely ousted in 1972 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and again by Zia-ul-Haq in 1983.

The Sindh Wildlife Conservation building in Saddar, Karachi, served as a Masonic hall until it was taken over by the government. The Masonic Temple in Lahore, built in 1860, has been renamed to Mason Hall and is today used as a multi-purpose government building by the Government of Punjab.


The Grand Lodge of the Philippines was founded in 1912, it has 360 lodges with 16 500 members and is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. It had a pivotal role in the reestablishment of Freemasonry in Japan after World War II.

Sri Lanka

Freemasonry was introduced in Ceylon by the British in the early 1800s. Currently there are ten English Lodges, two Scottish Lodges and four Irish Lodges in Sri Lanka. Most are based at the Victoria Masonic Temple at Galle Face, Colombo while others are based at the Kandy Masonic Temple in Kandy; the New Masonic Temple in Nuwara Eliya and the Masonic Temple of Kurunegala.


After several rocky starts, Lodge St John (Scottish Constitution) was founded in Bangkok on January 24, 1911. One century later there are lodges from the United Grand Lodge of England, Grand Lodge of Ireland, Grand Lodge of Scotland, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Delaware, Grand Orient of the Netherlands, National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF) and the Grand Lodge of France (GLdF). Lodges from GLdF are not recognized by the other lodges in the kingdom.


In Turkey Freemasonry was introduced by foreign merchants in the eighteenth century (1721) and was outlawed by Mahmud I in 1748, although it slowly came back and Freemasons were exiled as part of a crackdown on the Bektashis in 1826.

A Grand Orient was formed in 1909. Freemasonry was suppressed from 1935 to 1948.

A schism occurred in 1964, with a small group of freemasons creating the Grand Lodge of Liberal Freemasons of Turkey, which later attached itself to the Grand Orient de France


Freemasonry in Asia Wikipedia

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