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(self-designation, Manchu nyalma; Chinese designation, Manchou, Ch’i), an indigenous people of northeastern China, living mainly in southern Manchuria. Population, approximately 3 million (1970, estimate).

The Manchu language is spoken chiefly by the Manchus living in villages in Heilungkiang Province; in other regions of the People’s Republic of China the Manchus speak Chinese. The Manchus profess Buddhism and Taoism; shamanism and ancestor worship still exist among some Manchus. The Manchus are basically the descendants of the ancient population of northeastern China, namely, the Sushen, Ilu, Wochü, Wuchi, Moho, and other Tungus tribes mentioned in Chinese chronicles. Neighboring Turkic, Mongol, and other tribes also contributed at different times to the ethnic evolution of the Manchus.

In the early eighth century the Moho formed the Pohai state, which was destroyed by the Khitan people in 926. The origin of the Jurchen feudal state (1115-1234) hastened the consolidation of the tribes in northeastern China. The Manchus formed a single people in the early 17th century, when the name “Manchu,” common for the whole territory and people, appeared with the unification of small domains and the creation of a military feudal state. This period also saw the formation of a national language of the Manchus and a common material and spiritual culture. In the 17th century, after their conquest of Korea, China, and Mongolia, the Manchus founded the Ch’ing empire; in the 18th century, the Manchus conquered Dzungaria, Tibet, and other regions. Compulsory service in the banner forces stationed in the large cities of the empire led to a loss of the native language and partial assimilation of the Manchus to Chinese culture. At the same time, the Chinese also adopted a number of elements from the Manchu material culture.

Vestiges of clan division, the observance of ancient rituals, and distinctive architectural features still survive among the Manchus. The chief occupation is farming (grain crops, legumes, sesame, hemp, vegetables); in the highland regions, the Manchus engage in the timber industry. Some Manchus are employed as industrial workers.


Narody Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965. (With bibliography.)
Starikov, V. S. “Predmety byta i orudiia truda man’chzhurov v sobraniiakh MAE: K voprosu o samobytnosti material’noi kul’tury man’chzhurov.” In Sb. muzeia antropologii i etnografii, vol. 25. Leningrad, 1969.


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