Sushen

Sushen

Sushen was an ancient ethnic group or people who dwelt in the northeastern part of China and the Russian Maritime Province.

The name of Sushen appeared as early as the 6th century BC in Chinese documents. They are almost unknown with the exception of the fact that they lived to the north of China and used wooden bows and crossbows. Ancient Chinese believed that the Sushen paid arrows as tribute to an ideal Chinese ruler. In other words, an arrival of Sushen delegates was, for the Chinese, an auspicious sign of the Chinese ruler's virtue.

From the 3rd century to the 6th century, the name Sushen was used as an alias for the Yilou, who were in eastern Manchuria. However, the connection between the Yilou and the ancient Sushen is unclear. Some historians think that Chinese, having heard that the Yilou paid arrows as tribute, linked them with the Sushen based on knowledge of ancient documents. They paid tribute several times and pleased rulers of Northern China. The Yilou disappeared from documents in the 6th century. The Mohe rose into power there instead.

The Chinese characters for 'Sushen' (粛慎) can also be found in Japanese documents, in which the characters are annotated and read as Mishihase or Ashihase. According to Nihonshoki, the Mishihase first arrived to Sado Province during the reign of Emperor Kimmei. In 660, Japanese General Abe no Hirafu defeated the Mishihase in Hokkaidō by request from the native inhabitants. Some historians consider that the Mishihase were identical with the Sushen of Chinese records, and others think that Japanese named the indigenous people in the northeast based on the knowledge of Chinese documents, just as the Chinese did during the Three Kingdoms Period.

They are believed to have been the ancestors of the Jurchen, and subsequently of the Manchu, Nanai and many other Tungusic peoples.

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