Manchu, people who lived in Manchuria for many centuries and who ruled China from 1644 until 1912. These people, related to the Tungus, were descended from the Jurchen, a tribe known in Asia since the 7th cent. They were first called Manchu in the early 17th cent. Originally pastoral nomads in Manchuria, the Manchu (or Jurchen) swept into N China in the early 12th cent. but were forced by the Mongols to withdraw in the mid-13th cent. The Manchu settled in the Songhua River valley and developed an agrarian civilization. Under the emperor Nurhaci (1559-1626) they secured the allegiance of many tribes and increased their territory. The Manchu claim of relation to the Ch'in dynasty of China was the justification for conquering China in the 17th cent. and establishing the Ch'ing dynasty. The Manchu tried to keep themselves from being absorbed by the Chinese, but when the dynasty was overthrown in the 20th cent. these efforts failed; gradually, they have become part of the general Chinese population.

The Manchu people (Manchu: Manju; , Mongolian: Манж, Russian: Маньчжуры) 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 Dynasty and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until its abolition in 1911 after the Xinhai Revolution, which established a republican government in its place.

The Manchu ethnicity have 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 vestments (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. 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.


Ancestors of the Manchu were the peoples of the Mongolian steppes. 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.

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 Mukden (modern-day Shenyang) and built it into the new capital in 1621. In 1636 Nurhaci's son Huang Taiji, reorganized the Manchus, including those Mongolians, Koreans and Hans who had joined them, changed the nation's name to Qing, and formally changed the name of the nationality 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 Ming 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 new ruling Qing dynasty. Over the next two decades, the Manchu took command of all of China.

For political purposes, the early Manchurian 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 Mongolian Yuan dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu government made efforts to preserve Manchu culture and the 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 quickly dissipated after the 1911 revolution as the new Republic of China now sought to include Manchus within its national identity.


In 1931, the Empire of Japan 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.

Autonomous Areas designated for Manchus

(or equivalent)
prefecture-level city Name Chinese pinyin Designated minority Local name Capital
Hebei Chengde 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
Qinglong Manchu Autonomous County 青龍滿族自治縣 (T)
青龙满族自治县 (S)
Qīnglóng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Cinglung Manju Zijysiyan Qinglong
Qinhuangdao 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
Jilin Siping Yitong Manchu Autonomous County 伊通滿族自治縣 (T)
伊通满族自治县 (S)
Yītōng Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Manchu Itung Manju Zijysiyan Yitong Town
Liaoning Fushun 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
Benxi 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 County 桓仁滿族自治縣 (T)
桓仁满族自治县 (S)
Huánrén Mǎnzú Zìzhìxiàn Huwanren Manju Zijysiyan Huanren Town
Anshan 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
Dandong 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

See also

Famous Manchu

External links


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