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The Manchu people (Manchu: Manju; , Mongolian: Манж, ) are a Tungusic people who originated in Manchuria (today's northeastern China). During their rise in the seventeenth century, with the help of Ming rebels (such as general Wu Sangui), they conquered the Ming Dynastymarker and founded the Qing Dynastymarker, which ruled Chinamarker until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican governmentmarker in its place.

The Manchu ethnicity has largely been assimilated with the Han Chinese. The Manchu language is almost extinct, now spoken only among a small number of elderly people in remote rural areas of northeastern China and a few scholars; there are around ten thousand speakers of Sibe (Xibo), a Manchu dialect spoken in the Ili region of Xinjiang. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Manchu culture among both ethnic Manchus and Han. The number of Chinese today with some Manchu ancestry is quite large, and the adoption of favorable policies towards ethnic minorities (such as preferential university admission and government employment opportunities) has encouraged some people with mixed Han and Manchu ancestry to re-identify themselves as Manchu.


Aspects of Manchu customs and traditions can be seen in local cuisines, language and customs in today's Manchuria as well as cities in that region. After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Manchus also adopted many Han customs and traditions.

They traditionally coiled their hair in high tufts on top of their heads and wore earrings, long gowns and embroidered shoes. The women with higher social standing wore silk and satin clothing while cotton clothing was worn by women of lower social standing. Variants of such costumes (including qi pao and ma gua, Mandarin dress) are still popular all over China. The man's clothing once consisted of a short and adjusted jacket over a long gown with a belt at the waist to facilitate horse-riding and hunting. Unlike the Han, the Manchu did not practice foot binding.

The traditional Manchu dwellings were made up of three quarters. In the center of the house was the kitchen while the wings contained the dormitory and the living room. The unique Manchu tradition did not allow people to die on nahan () to the west or north. Believing that doors were made for living souls, the Manchus allowed dead bodies to be taken out only through windows and ground burial was the general practice.

The Manchu language is a member of the Tungusic language group, itself a member of the proposed Altaic language family.


The first ancestors of the Manchu were the Sushen, a people who lived during the second and first millennia BC. They were followed by the Yilou people, who were active from AD 202 to 220. The Wuji followed in the fifth century and the tribes of the Mohe in the sixth century. One of the tribes of the Mohe, the Heishui (Black Water) tribe, eventually became the ancestors of the Jurchens, from whom the Manchu originated.

The Jurchens under the Wanyan clan established the Jin Dynasty (literally Golden Dynasty) that ruled the northern half of China (1115–1234) and rivaled the Song Dynasty in southern China. The Jin were conquered by the Mongols under Genghis Khan.

Before the seventeenth century, the ancestors of the Manchus were generally a pastoral people, hunting, fishing and engaging in limited agriculture and pig-farming.

Traditional society

One of the old tradition of Manchu is the system of bondservants, boo-i or nucai, another Manchu word with similar meaning, was adopted into Han Chinese culture and is used in everyday life.

The Jurchen tribes employed Chinese agricultural boo-i as early as the 1400s, and it was common practice for Manchu military commanders to have their field and house bondservants serving in boo-i units during military campaigns. The Manchu masters treated their slaves in much harsher terms than their Han Chinese counterparts, and punished their slaves with much stiffer terms, such as to have their face tattooed, then send to remote regions doing hard labour for life.

In 1673 the killing of a 'Boo-i's slaves to accompany their dead master to the grave was outlawed.

Founding of the Qing Dynasty

In 1616 a Manchu leader, Nurhaci (1559-1626) broke away from the power of the decaying Ming Dynasty and established the Later Jin Dynasty (後金 Hòu Jīn) / Amaga Aisin Gurun (), domestically called the State of Manchu (manju gurun) (), and unified Manchu tribes, establishing (or at least expanding) the Manchu Banner system, a military structure which made their forces quite resilient in the face of superior Ming Dynasty numbers in the field. Nurhaci later conquered Mukdenmarker (modern-day Shenyang) and built it into the new capital in 1621. In 1636 Nurhaci's son Huang Taiji, reorganized the Manchus, including those other groups (such as Hans and Mongols) who had joined them, changed the nation's name to Qing Dynasty, and formally changed the name of the ethnic designation to Manchu.

The early significance of Manchu has not been established satisfactorily. It may have been an old term for the Jianzhou Jurchens. One theory claims that the name came from the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī (the Bodhisattva of Wisdom), of which Nurhaci claimed to be an incarnation. Another theory is that the Manchus, like a number of other Tungusic peoples, take their name from the common Tungusic word *mangu(n), 'a great river'.

When Beijing was captured by Li Zicheng's peasant rebels in 1644, the last Mingmarker Emperor Chongzhen committed suicide. The Manchu then allied with Ming Dynasty general Wu Sangui and seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing dynasty. Over the next two decades, the Manchu took command of all of China.

For political purposes, the early Manchu emperors took wives descended from the Mongol Great Khans, so that their descendants (such as the Kangxi Emperor) would also be seen as legitimate heirs of the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynastymarker. During the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu government made efforts to preserve Manchu culture and language. These efforts were largely unsuccessful in that Manchus gradually adopted the customs and language of the surrounding Han Chinese and, by the nineteenth century, spoken Manchu was rarely used even in the Imperial court. Written Manchu, however, was still used for the keeping of records and communication between the emperor and the Banner officials until the collapse of the dynasty. The Qing dynasty also maintained a system of dual appointments in which all major imperial offices would have a Manchu and a Han Chinese member. Because of the small number of Manchus, this insured that a large fraction of them would be government officials.

Near the end of the Qing Dynasty, Manchus were portrayed as outside colonizers by Chinese nationalists such as Sun Yat-Sen, even though the Republican revolution he brought about was supported by many reform-minded Manchu officials and military officers. This portrayal dissipated somewhat after the 1911 revolution as the new Republic of China now sought to include Manchus within its national identity. Until 1924, the government continued to pay stipends to Manchu bannermen; however, many cut their links with their banners and took on Han-style names in an attempt to hide their Manchu origins and avoid widespread discrimination. The official total of Manchu people fell by more than half during this period, as they refused to admit their ethnicity when asked by government officials or other outsiders.


In 1931, the Empire of Japanmarker created a puppet state in Manchuria called Manchukuo. The new state was nominally ruled by Emperor Puyi. By this time the population of Manchuria was overwhelmingly Han Chinese, and though Manchukuo was intended to be a state for Manchus, the way its borders were drawn produced a state that had a majority Han population. Manchukuo was abolished at the end of World War II, with its territory incorporated back into China.

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China recognised the Manchu as one of the country's official minorities in 1952. In the 1953 census, 2.5 million people identified themselves as Manchu. The Communist government also attempted to improve the treatment of Manchu people; some Manchu people who had hidden their ancestry during the period of KMT rule thus became more comfortable to reveal their ancestry, such as the writer Lao She, who began to include Manchu characters in his fictional works in the 1950s (in contrast to his earlier works which had none). Between 1982 and 1990, the official count of Manchu people more than doubled from 4,299,159 to 9,821,180, making them China's fastest-growing ethnic minority. In fact, however, this growth was not due to natural increase, but instead people formerly registered as Han applying for official reclassification as Manchu.

Autonomous Areas designated for Manchus

(or equivalent)
prefecture-level city Name Chinese pinyin Designated minority Local name Capital
Hebeimarker Chengdemarker Fengning Manchu Autonomous County 豊寧滿族自治縣 (T)
丰宁满族自治县 (S)
Fēngníng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Manchu Fengning Manju Zijysiyan Daming
Kuancheng Manchu Autonomous County 寛城滿族自治縣 (T)
宽城满族自治县 (S)
Kuānchéng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Kuwanceng Manju Zijysiyan Kuancheng
Weichang Manchu and Mongol Autonomous County 圍場滿族蒙古族自治縣 (T)
围场满族蒙古族自治县 (S)
Wéichǎng Mǎnzú Měnggǔzú Zìzhìxiàn Manchu and Mongol ? Waichang Town
Qinhuangdaomarker Qinglong Manchu Autonomous County 青龍滿族自治縣 (T)
青龙满族自治县 (S)
Qīnglóng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Manchu Cinglung Manju Zijysiyan Qinglong
Jilinmarker Sipingmarker Yitong Manchu Autonomous County 伊通滿族自治縣 (T)
伊通满族自治县 (S)
Yītōng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Itung Manju Zijysiyan Yitong Town
Liaoningmarker Fushunmarker Xinbin Manchu Autonomous County 新賓滿族自治縣 (T)
新宾满族自治县 (S)
Xīnbīn Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Sinbin Manju Zijysiyan Xinbin Town
Qingyuan Manchu Autonomous County 清原滿族自治縣 (T)
清原满族自治县 (S)
Qīngyuán Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Cingyuwan Manju Zijysiyan Qingyuan Town
Benximarker Benxi Manchu Autonomous County 本溪滿族自治縣 (T)
本溪满族自治县 (S)
Běnxī Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Xiaoshi Town
Huanren Manchu Autonomous Countymarker 桓仁滿族自治縣 (T)
桓仁满族自治县 (S)
Huánrén Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Huwanren Manju Zijysiyan Huanren Town
Anshanmarker Xiuyan Manchu Autonomous County 岫岩滿族自治縣 (T)
岫岩满族自治县 (S)
Xiùyán Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn ? Xiuyan Town
Dandongmarker Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County 寛甸滿族自治縣 (T)
宽甸满族自治县 (S)
Kuāndiàn Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Kuwandiyan Manju Zijysiyan Kuandian Town

Famous Manchu

Pre-Qing Dynasty era

The Qing Dynasty era


Nobility and aristocrats

Aisin Gioro Clan (愛新覺羅氏)


Military officers in the Sino-Japanese War


Martial artists


Writers and Poets



Media and entertainment industry


See also


  1. With 10.68 million members, Manchu is the 3rd largest ethnic group in China after the Han and the Zhuang. See:
  2. Huang, P.: "New Light on the origins of the Manchu," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 50, no.1 (1990): 239-82. Retrieved from JSTOR database July 18, 2006.


External links

  • (Simplified Chinese)

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