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Chinese Minority – Manchu Nationality

The Manchu started Qing Dynasty, the last dynasty in Chinese history. Many students who learn Chinese are also very interested in Chinese history.  This article helps you get to know the Manchu culture. The Manchu Nationality mainly lives in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. The Manzurian language belongs to the Altaic language family and its writing was based on the Mongolian script. The Manchu have a long history and their origin dates back over 3,000 years ago. They believe in Shamanism and Buddhism.

1. Eating and Clothing

Their most famous peculiar food is “saqima”, which is made by turning the dough of egg and flour into sticks to be fried in oil and added with honey, white sugar, and melon seeds, before being shaped into golden cakes. With candied fruit scattering on the surface, it is sweet and tasty. Now it has become one of China’s popular cakes and pastries.

In the past, Manchu men liked to wear a blue gown, mandarin jacket and trousers, with hair braids hanging from the top of the head under the round hat at the back. Women wore straight cheongsam and embroidered shoes, with a bun of hair on the head, earrings dangling from the ears and a handkerchief at the waist. The women aristocrats usually wore “hair crown”, which is made with iron wire as the frame covered with blue silk. The fan shaped crown, about 30 centimeters long and 10 centimeters in width, is decorated with embroiders, jewelry or flowers and long tassels as well. Manchu women’s “banner shoes” are also very peculiar, using wood on the bottom with embroidered cicadas or butterflies on the uppers and silk tassels so long on the tongues as to touch the ground. The Manchu clothing was once popular all over China in the Qing Dynasty but it has been gradually “sinicized”. Now Manzurians wear the same as Han Chinese.

2. Wedding

Since ancient times, the Manchu never had early marriage, young men and women are generally admitted for marriage after they are 17 or 18 years old. In the Qing Dynasty Manzurians emphasized family status in their selection of daughters-in-law, but the brides did not have any wealth requirement for the boy’s family. Before the wedding ceremony, the bride unites the propitious lock on her neck and gives it to her maternal family, which symbolizes that she has grown up and will start a new life. When the bridegroom’s group arrives, the bride under the red veil is carried onto the sedan chair by her brother or uncle and escorted to her new home. Before she gets off, the bridegroom shoots three arrows at the door of the decorated chair to expel the evil influence brought about on the road. In the courtyard there is a table to consecrate to the God of Heaven and the God of Earth. The newly-weds kowtow before the memorial table, called “to make obeisance”. Before entering the bridal chamber, they should cross over a brazier, which means they will have a prosperous future life, and over a saddle, and prestigious seniors sing “wedding songs” for them in the middle of the yard, with other throwing liquor and food into the air to inform heaven of the marriage and to wish the newly-weds a happy life and the whole family prosperity.

3. Customs

As for customs and habits, Manchu people forbid killing and eating dog, or wearing dog-skin eaps. They are engaged in hunting year after year, and dogs are their indispensable assistants, and they also help pull sledges in winter. They love dogs so much that they feed them with meticulous care everyday and even hold grand funerals for dogs at their death. Han people never have good impressions of crows and even hate them. But Manzurians never drive or kill crows; instead they love crows. Manzurians consecrate the west wall for memorial services for their ancestors and they forbid hanging clothing and posting New Year’s paintings on the wall. The west “kang” is popularly known as “the Kang for Buddha”, on which people, women in particular, are forbidden from sitting or lying. The Manchu people worship the God of fire and forbid walking across the stove or the fire pit, stepping or sitting on the kitchen range, drying feet, socks or boots on the kitchen stove, or throwing into the kitchen stove things like leftovers, bones and fishbone.

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