The Man ethnic minority (also called Manchu) has a profound and brilliant history of nearly 1,400 years, tracing back to the Sui (581 - 618) and Tang (618 - 907) Dynasties. Arising from the Jurchen tribes and establishing the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) and the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), the Manchu people have greatly influenced Chinese history. Until 1911, the Man ethnic minority had the name of Baqi, synonymous with a distinctive fabric of the Man people.
Population and Distribution:
Today, the Manchu ethnic minority has a population of 10,682,263, based on the fifth national census of 2000. They live mainly in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning of north China although the Man minority can be found in most of China's largest cities as well.
In the 16th century, the written language of the Manchu people was created from characters based on the Mongolian language, with dots following the distinctive characters. The Manchu language is part of the Tungus-Manchu group, a branch of Altaic phylum. As the Man people migrated from northern to central China, they learned and adopted the Chinese language of the dominant Han. Today, only elders in remote regions of Heilongjiang Province still know and can use their ancestral language.
The ancient Manchu people believed in Shamanism. Later, with the influence of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism, their beliefs took on a pluralistic quality. It is not uncommon to see statues of Bodhisattva, Guan Yu and other gods positioned in Man houses for blessing.
The contributions of the Manchu people to Chinese culture, literature, music and arts are considerable. Many emperors of Qing were themselves painters, calligraphers, poets and masters of other literary arts. The Man encouraged education and many sat for the imperial examinations required of those who would serve the emperor in the highly-sought-after positions of scholars, literati and high-ranking civil servants. Cao Xueqin, the creator of one of the four Chinese classics, Hong Lou Meng (Dream of Red Mansions), reflecting many facets of feudal society during the Qing Dynasty, was of Man ethnicity.
In addition to their literary and artistic accomplishments, they developed agriculture, fishery and animal husbandry for their livelihood, especially after the founding of Modern China in 1949.
They have a distinctive cuisine with typical dishes that include Chaffy dish, acid soup, blood sausage, and 'bobo', a type of steamed cake. In Manchu culture, eating the meat of dog or any product derived from dog is shunned.
Traditional festivals of the Man are similar to those of the Han people. During the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival and on Mid-Autumn Festival, distinctive sports like skating are included in the festivities of the Man people.
They are brave and athletic. They excel at riding and shooting, which women and children can do as well as men. In the Qing Dynasty, men plaited their hair on the left side and shaved off the hair around their foreheads. Women wore hair pins, earrings and a once piece dress, the Qipao.