The Ewenki ethnic minority treasures their name of nationality which means 'people living in the mountain forests'. With a relatively small population of 30,505 (in the year 2000), the Ewenki ethnic minority mostly live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which is favorably bestowed with pastures, forests, farmland, as well as mineral resources like iron, gold, bronze and crystal. Nearly half of the Ewenki ethnic minority lives on stock breeding, with the other half surviving on agriculture and hunting.
Language and Character:
The Ewenki language belongs to the Tungus-Manchu branch of the Altaic phylum. Interestingly it has no written characters. In the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), the Ewenki group learned to write in Manchu form whilst today they can master Mongolian and Chinese languages.
Most of Ewenki people are disciples of Shamanism. Meanwhile, they also believe that there are gods controlling their life. The god of mountain, in their eyes, is a long bearded senior man. When hunters meet with mountains, caves, or odd rocks, they will think these are the domicile of god and their preys are the blessing of god. Rituals are preformed without noise and the meat of prey is given in worship to the gods. They also admire the god of fire. Every 23rd day of the last lunar month, they will worship him after sunset.
Food and Food Culture:
The staple food of the Ewenki clan is milk, meat and flour. They drink milk during the time of breakfast and lunch. Every time they have guests, they are greeted with milk tea. Yogurt and milk wine are also made. Boiled mutton and beef are the favorite meat. This is similar to Mongolians. The meat on bones with marrow must be presented first to the senior of a family, as the Ewenki group boasts their tradition of respect for elders. Wares for food are also of distinction. Typically they are made from the wood and bark of birch. Knives are also used to cut meat from big boiled pieces of mutton.
Traditional clothes of the Ewenki people are made from the leather of roe, deer and sheep. Various types of leather gloves with delicate patterns are regularly made. The Ewenki people like clothes in the color of blue, green and black. They do not like red and yellow and ward off white. White clothes are considered mourning dress.
Ewenki people are good at singing and dancing, wrestling and horse-racing. These are quite common entertainments performed during festivals. The most important festivals are the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Qingming Festival, Fire Worship Day, Mikoulu Festival, and so on. During these days, people get together to celebrate and worship gods and ancestors, expecting peace and auspice.
Bears are held in high esteem by the Ewenki people. When a bear is killed, they do not say it is 'dead', but 'sleeping'. After hunting a deer, they are accustomed to cleaning up the blood or any filth, or are considered to be immoral. Children are not allowed to play with fire, or the livestock will be thought to run far away and never return. Milk is considered a precious food, indicating auspice, so great care is taken for it not to be spilled.
More Ethnic Groups in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang Area:
Mongol Manchu Hui Daur Oroqen