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The Manchu are an ethnic group living mostly in northeast China in what used to be known as Manchuria. Today, Manchus have been largely assimilated by the surrounding Han Chinese and the Manchu language is almost extinct.


The Manchus were formerly known as the Jurchen. Manchu (manju) was originally a tribal group of the Jurchen that Nurhaci belonged to. Nurhaci's son Hong Taiji decided to call themselves Manju and prohibited the use of Jurchen.

The Manchus were basically hunters and gathering people using Chinese peasant slaves.

The Manchus were able to set up their own dynasty Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) by overthrowing Liao Dynasty in Manchuria. However, their dynasty was shortlived as it was anniliated by Ogetai Khan[?]'s Mongolian cavalries and become part of Yuan Dynasty.

In 1616 a Manchu leader, Nurhaci[?] (1559-1626) established the Later Jin Dynasty (後金 hou4 jin1), domestically called the State of Manchu (manju gurun), and unified Manchu tribes. In 1636 Nurhaci's son Hong Taiji, headed by Manchus, Mongolians and Chinese, changed the dynasty's name to Qing.

When the Beijing was captured by Li Zicheng[?] in 1644, the Qing Empire invaded China proper and moved the capital from Mukden(Chinese city since Warring States) to Beijing.

Many early Manchurian emperors such as Kangxi were of Mongolian origin. During the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu government made effort 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 19th century, the Manchu language was rarely used even in the Imperial court. 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. Owing to the small number of Manchu, this insured that a large fraction of Manchus 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. This portrayal quickly dissapated after the 1911 revolution.

During World War II, the Japanese created what was portrayed as a Manchu homeland known as Manzhouguo. By this time Manchuria was overwhelming Han Chinese, and even among the Manchus, this project failed to generate much genuine interest.


see Manchu language

See also: Ethnic groups in Chinese history

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