Provinces: Lianing, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Beijing, Inner Mongolia
Known as the Jurchen tribe from the Tang Dynasty, the Manchu’s traditional homeland is located between the Changbai Mountains, and the Wusuli and Heilong Rivers. United by a man named Nurachai in the late-1500s, they breached the Great Wall in 1644 and overthrew the ruling Ming Dynasty. Establishing the Qing Dynasty, they ruled China until the establishment of the Republic in 1911. During the Qing regime, all men were required to shave their foreheads and wear long, braided queues– and it is this image that many attach to China.
The Manchus had their own Altaic-based language, and a writing system that was established toward the end of the 1600s. Now, the majority speaks Mandarin Chinese, and over the years, many Manchurian scholars have contributed works on culture, science, and technology.
After conquering China, Manchurians assimilated into traditional Han culture. Even today, they are much like the mainstream. Most Manchus are farmers, while those living in cities work in industrial and cultural enterprises. Both in physical appearance and customs, they are virtually impossible to distinguish from the majority Han. They particularly enjoy wrestling, ice skating, horseback riding, story-telling, and puppeteering as forms of recreation. Traditional religion leans toward Shamanism, but now leans toward Buddhism.
Festivals are held to celebrate spring planting, autumn harvest, and New Year’s Day.
Photographs from “China’s Minority Peoples,” China Pictoral Publishing House.