Ten Facts about the Nűzhen 女真. (Jurchens) You Probably Did Not Know
By Laurel A. Rockefeller
The Jurchens. Unless you have a particular interest in Chinese history odds are you probably have never heard of them before—at least not by that name, let alone their proper name, nűzhen 女真. But odds are you have heard of them and never knew it. In 1635 Hong Taiji, son of Qing dynasty founder Aisin-gioro Nurgaci, changed the name to “Manchu” even as he changed the dynastic name from “Later Jin” (a reference to the nűzhen Jin Empire) to “Qing.”
Here are ten facts about the nűzhen you probably did not know before.
1. The nűzhen ruled over northern China on two different occasions in two separate dynasties.
The Jin dynasty added northern China to the nűzhen homeland from 1115 to 1234 officially, driving the Chinese Song dynasty out of the north entirely and forming the Southern Song from that imperial government. Though the Jin and Song were constantly at war and the border changed accordingly, the nűzhen managed to keep control over most of the north until those lands gradually fell to the Mongol hordes across the 13th century.
In the late 16th century Aisin-gioro Nurgaci commenced a war of independence against Chinese Ming dynasty. In 1644 Nurgaci’s grandson, the Shenzhi emperor became the first nűzhen/Manchu to rule over the entirety of China in addition to the nűzhen homeland with the official beginning of the Qing dynasty.
2. Nűzhen wars and resistance movements against the Mongols prolonged the Southern Song dynasty.
The Southern Song was notoriously weak militarily whereas the nűzhen were near equals to the Mongols in both battle tactics and technology. Rather than conquer an easy prey, the Mongols largely ignored the Southern Song until 1271, declaring the Yuan dynasty in 1279.
3. Russia took advantage of the Unequal Treaties of the 1850s and 1860s to seize parts of the nűzhen homeland.
The nűzhen homeland originally expanded well beyond the Heilongjiang (Amur River) and included coastal territories larger than the entire Korean kingdom. In 1858 and 1860 China was forced to cede these lands to Russia. Today Russia still owns them.
4. The clothing that most people associate with China belongs to the nűzhen/Manchu nationality.
China is compromised of hundreds of nationalities, many of them with their own native languages and styles of dress. During the Qing dynasty the nűzhen style of dress became dominate clothing style at court. This in turn spread across China and was adopted by the Chinese.
5. As a northern people, nűzhen clothing is designed for economy and warmth.
Nűzhen clothing was originally made exclusively of furs and leathers. Clothing had to cover the body effectively, break the wind, and avoid waste. The characteristic overlap with its curve at the shoulder follows the natural shape of the hides used while making the tunic, coat, or dress both warm and wind-resistant. When the nűzhen started making clothes from silks and other textiles imported from the Chinese, they kept this style despite the rectangular nature of woven fabrics.
6. The nűzhen/Manchu language belongs to a different linguistic family than Chinese. Manchu is Tungusic; Chinese is considered Sino-Tibetan.
7. The nűzhen were twice enslaved before the Mongol invasions of the Jin Empire, first by the Korean Balhae kingdom and second by the Khitan (Qidan) of the Liao dynasty.
8. The nűzhen introduced ginseng to Chinese medicine. The plant is originally native to the nűzhen homeland.
9. Our word “shaman” takes its origins from the Manchu language. The Manchu words are sama (male priest) and saman (female priestess).
10. A heavy tax paid in gyrfalcons native to the nűzhen homeland directly led to the nűzhen revolt that not only freed the nűzhen from Khitan/Qidan rule, but created the Jin Empire along the way.
Though normally at war among themselves, the tax unified the nűzhen on two grounds. First, the gyrfalcon is considered holy in the nűzhen’s shamanistic religion. Second, the tax was imposed without consulting clan and tribal leaders. Or, put another way, it was a case of “taxation without representation” more than 600 years before American colonists used the same grounds to rebel against the British Empire.
The Arban and the Saman
by Laurel A. Rockefeller
Genre: Mystical Historical Romance
What would you risk for love?
It is the year 1211 CE. Five years after being declared "khan," Chinggis Khan and his invading hordes are sweeping across the north China plain, right into the nűzhen heartland. Their objective: conquest of the mighty Jin Empire.
Among those sent into Liaoning is a low-ranking officer (an arban) named Mongke Nichan, a spiritual man on a personal quest to find his soulmate and fulfill a prophesy long lingering in his heart.
But finding his twin flame and convincing her are two completely different matters in this wartime romance that takes you into the very heart of Asian mysticism and deep into the ranks of the powerful Mongol Horde.
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Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide.
With her lyrical writing style, Laurel's books are as beautiful to read as they are informative.
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series.
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