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Manchu-Tungsic Peoples of China :
This page was last updated on: May 28, 2017
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Manchu-Tungusic Peoples, descendants of the Jurchen and XiaoBei in China :
The seven Manchu-Tungusic Peoples of China are the Manchu, the Mongols, the Daur, the Hezhen, the Oroqen, the Evenki and the Xibe People. Their cultures are described below.
The Manchu of China :
The Manchu are the second largest Ethnic Minority Group in China after the Mongolians. The Manchu People mainly reside in the North-Eastern Regions of China, in the past collectively known as Manchuria. The main concentrations of Manchu are found in the Capital City of Liaoning Province at Shenyang. The Manchu are however widely scattered throughout North East China and live in several autonomous districts in Jilin Province (Siping City Prefecture, Yitong Manchu Autonomous County), in Hebei Province (Chengde Prefecture, Kuancheng Manchu Autonomous County and QinhuangDao, Weichang Manchu and Mongol Autonomous County) and Liaoning Province (Fushun, Benxi, Anshan and Dandong Prefectures).
According to the Year 2000 AD National Census there were 5.813.900 Manchu living within Chinese Borders.

The History of the Manchu People is grandiose. The descend from the Jurchen (Yurchen), who themselves were strong and proud horsemen and hunters of the North. A Jurchen Clan established the Jin Dynasty (Golden Dynasty) that ruled the northern half of China from 1115 AD –1234 AD. The Manchu set forth their traditions and were famed for their skilled and accurate archery. Traditional Manchu were hunters and fishermen, some of whom were also engaged in small scale agriculture.
Children were taught the art of swan-hunting with wooden bows and arrows at sage six or seven, and teenagers learned to ride on horseback in full hunting gear, racing through forests and mountains. Manchu Women were equally skilled in horse-riding.
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Datong, Shanxi Province
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Traditional Manchu Religion as with the other Tribes of the North was Shamanist. The Manchu believed that every living thing and object have a soul (hence, their later sensitivity to buddhism-lamaism as a faith). Nature was beautiful and sacred. Ancestor worship was equally important to the Manchu (as can be seen at their many Ancestral Shrines, of whom two are located within the Palace Museum. The Tai Miao - Imperial Ancestral Temple, and the Feng Xian Dian - Hall of Worshipping Ancestors).
For some reason Manchu traditions forbid the killing of dogs and eating dog's meat is strictly taboo.
In the Times after the establishment of their Northern Kingdom and the subsequent Qing Dynasty of China, the Manchu were strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism-Lamaism, at the time the beliefs of the majority of Tibetans and Mongolians. Through strong ties with both ethnic groups Buddhism-Lamaism became entrenched as the official Religion of the Royal Family and thus the states most-favored religion (China never had a State Religion in the same way as European States have). The Manchu however, created their own version of this religion by combining it with their all important rituals of ancestor worship. This gave rise to a new form of Manchu Shamanism generally referred to as the Court Branch practiced by the priest-sorcerers in the palace. During the entire Qing Dynasty Reign these Shaman-priests were employed to chant scriptures at the ancestral shrines and tablets and other major Temples of the Imperial Family. The imperial services of the Qing always included Shaman Dancers.  Military successes and triumphal marches of troops returning from battlefields were celebrated with sacrificial ceremonies presided over by shamans.

The Manchu Festivals are identical to the Han Festivals, which are the Spring Festival, the Lantern festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. The Manchu enjoy wrestling, ice skating - a sport inlcuded in the Manchu Military training, and horseback riding for recreation. They also welcome story-telling and puppet shows.

Today's Manchu are fully integrated into mainstream (Han) society which means that many, some 70%, of them are engaged in farming in the Northern Provinces. Agricultural products are many and include soybean, sorghum, corn, millet, tobacco and apple. Manchu also raise tussah and silkworms.
Manchu of remoter mountainous regions of the North East gather funguses and ginseng, making up an important part of the diet and local economy. Manchu who live in the cities are often higher educated and engage in many various jobs and task in industry, trade, education, administration and the like. Businessmen among the Manchu Nationality regularly overseas with Japan, Hong Kong, the United States, Australia, South Korea and Russia. Tourism has also become a fast-growing source of income for the Manchu, especially those in rural area's.
In the past the Manchu had their own language with a written version of it, as can be seen on each doorpost within the Palace Museum of Beijing (all signs are bilingual, Manchu first). The Manchu language however is virtually extinct. Younger Manchu mainly speak and use the Chinese language and signs. A small minority, mainly elderly and those passionate about the Manchu Language still speak it fluently and are attempting to conserve the language today.
The Manchu language is known as kuoyu. Their script is a modified variation of Mongolian.
Historically the first large group of Manchu to adopt the mandarin Chinese language were those Manchu's who moved to south of the Shanhaiguan Pass (east end of the Great Wall of China, old dragons head in Hebei Province) to settle there and engage in agriculture and who gradually adopted Mandarin Chinese as their spoken language. When during the reign of the Qing Dynasty more and more Han migrated to the north of the Great Wall of China, the Manchu gradually became a minority in their own homelands and thus also adopted the more practical Han language.
The last Manchu to retain the purest form of the Manchu language where
a small group located in and around the Aihui County of Heilongjiang Province. Here Manchu people lived by their old traditions and customs and used the ancient Manchu language until 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded.
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Through the centuries of cultural inclusion after the establishment of the Qing Dynasty the Manchu have contributed in many ways to the integrated state the Peoples Republic of China is today. Through time there were many noteworthy if not famous Manchu scholars, painters, writers and artists. To name but a few, the famed modern-writer and revolutionary Lao She and earlier 18Th Century writer Cao Yuexin, the author of "A Dream of Red Mansions".
In the 17Th Century the Manchu poet Nalanxingde created his masterpieces of Poetry (on sceneries of the North-West) in the Mandarin language. A Dream of Red Mansions has become a Chinese Literary classic and is a strong critical work exposing the decadences and wrongs of Manchu Feudal Society and was written by its Manchu writer in the mandarin language. According to Chinese National sources Zhao Lian's Xiao Ting Za Lu (Random Notes at Xiaoting), a true account of the events, rites, personalities and institutions of the early Qing Dynasty, is an irreplaceable work of academic value for the study of the history of the Manchu's and Mongols.
- Ethnic Minorities of China in General
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- Manchu-Tungusic Peoples in China
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Read all about the Daur Ethnic Minority ...
Read all about the Xibe Ethnic Minority ...
The earliest Nuzhen, as the Manchu called themselves at the time, settled on the middle and lower reaches of the Heilong River and along the Songhua and Wusuli rivers in HeilongJiang Province, extending their territories to the sea coast in the east. They did so during the large migrations of the 13Th Century and the Yuan Dynasty period. The Yuan Dynasty Imperial administration organized the primitive Nuzhen for the first time and created five administrative districts, known respectively as Taowen, Huligai, Woduolian, Tuowolian and Bokujiang. Each governed 10,000 house-holds.

When the Yuan fell the Han Ming Dynasty eventualy chased Yuan loyalists to the very northern boundaries of the Empire and took over the place of the Yuan Dynasty, its troops and its administrations. The First true transfer of knowledge and customs from the Han to the Nuzhen occurred during the Years of the Ming Dynasty, which retained a powerful military force in the living area's of the Nuzhen. The over 380 military strongpoints of the Ming also doubled as trade post and dispersers of culture allowing this primitive people to develop itself further, economically as well as culturally.

The Qing Dynasty was essentially founded by Nuerhachi a Manchu Chief. There are small variations in his personal history but essentially Nuerchachi, of the Aisin-Gioro Clan was a chief who cooperated in the Ming occupation and administration of his Region. In 1583 AD Nuerhachi had made it to local garrison commander and from then on had rapidly extended his influence. A number of promotions followed, first public curator of HeilongJiang Province (the region was administered through Ming Courts) in 1589 AD, then receiving the Title of "Dragon-Tiger General" from the Ming. Nuerhachi, a clever Manchu Chief learned all he could from the Han.
By the beginning of the 16Th Century, when Ming Powers were already waning in the North, repeated wars broke out among the various Nuzhen Tribes. A clever politician, organizer as well as military leader Nuerhachi, the General then saw his chance. Within a very short period he managed to unite the Warring Tribes of the North-East under the Banner of the Manchu (Aisin-Gioro) Clan, establishing a Manchu Kingdom North of the Great Wall of China. This Kingdom is know as the Later Jin (or Kin) Dynasty and was established in 1619 AD. It was a slave state under the military organization of the 8 Banners system developed by Nuerhachi. When Mukden (Shenyang) was captured by the year 1621 AD, the General Great Khan ordered it to be constructed into a grandiose Capital. Nuerchachi's ambitions were clear, however he died by 1626 AD, leaving his surviving Sons a powerful military state to Rule and from which to attempt the subjugation of all of China.
In 1635, Huang Taiji (1592 AD-1643 AD), eighth son of Nu'erhachi (later First Emperor of the Qing Dynasty Tai Zong) chose the name of "Manchu" to replace Nuzhen for his people. In the following year, when he ascended the throne, he adopted Great Qing as the name of his dynasty with its Capital City and Palace established at Shenyang, Liaoning Province. From there the former Nuzhen, now Manchu rose from their native lands in the North-East to create the ruling Dynasty of China, the Qing. The Qing Dynasty reigned China supremely from 1644 AD to 1911 AD.
Through their Rule of China through many Centuries and the political necessities of such a feat the Manchu have adopted many of the ways of the Han majority people whom they conquered in 1644 AD. As a matter of fact, the Manchu largely integrated into Chinese mainstream society and live as such.

Among things, the Manchu lost their traditionally austere lifestyle inherited from the North. The diet has diversified through centuries, leaving no traditional Manchu dishes other than to be prepared through use of the Imperial Recipes inherited from the Qing Dynasty and its many records.
A favorite traditional Manchu meal consisted of steamed millet or cakes of glutinous millet. Festivals were traditionally celebrated with dumplings, and the New Year's Eve with a treat of stewed meat. Boiled and roast pork and Manchu-style cookies were table delicacies. The lifestyle however was fairly austere.

Manchu men further adopted the dress of the Han of the Time. On the other hand, Chinese Han women, through several stages of style adaptations, adopted the Manchu women's style of dress, a close fitting dress with a high collar and a slit skirt. During the Time of the Qing Dynasty, Han men, by law were obliged to adopt the traditional hairstyle of Manchu Men, which meant wearing a long pigtail from the neck down. This measure however was especially resented.
Although trying to continue the Chinese traditions of the Ming, in the end, the Manchus of the Qing Court were afraid to lose their own culture. Steps were taken to prevent complete cultural diffusion. Han Chinese were not allowed to move into the Manchu home land, Manchus could not go into trade or manual labor, and intermarriages were strictly forbidden.
Portrait of Girl Dressed in Traditional Manchurian Costume, Chengde, China
Portrait of Girl Dressed in Traditional Manchurian Costume, Chengde, China Photographic Print
Su, Keren
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A Full and complete Map of China (PRC) identifying all Language Areas big and small in all Provinces and Autonomous Regions of China.
Map includes Turkic Languages (Uygur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Salar & Uzbek), Mongolian Language and Sub-Divisions (Mongol, Tu, Daur and Dongxian), Tungusic Peoples (Oroqen, Evenki and Xibe) and Languages, Korean, Tajik (Tadzhik), Mon-Khmer (Kawa + Puman (or Pulang)), Hui, Uygur (Uighur), Tibeto-Bhurman Languages, Tai and Miao, Yao and She' Language Area's and Borders. Main Area's and sub-divisions of Han Languages (Northern Mandarin, Eastern Mandarin, South-Western Mandarin and Cantonese) further included. This color-coded ethno-linguistic Map (of 1967 AD) identifies at a glance most ethnic minority regions in China
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This page was last updated on: May 28, 2017
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