What most people do not know about China is that there are over 50 ethnic minorities aside from the predominant ? Han ethnicity. The Qing Dynasty, perhaps the most well-known and successful dynasties of China was established by an ethnic minority, ?? or the Machus. The Manchu leader, ???? ????(PinYin: Ai Shin Jue Luo Nu Er Ha Chi/English: Aisin Gioro Nurhaci) started his reign as Qing Dynastys first emperor in the year 1616. He established the ???? (Ba Qi Zhi Du) Eight Banner system that started off as a military division and eventually transformed into a social hierarchical guide into which all Machu families were placed.
The eight banners were: Primary Yellow, Primary White, Primary Red, Primary Blue, Bordered Yellow, Bordered White, Bordered Red and Bordered Blue. Primary Yellow, Bordered Yellow and Primary White were considered the top banners; families born under these flags were nobility and directly accountable to the Emperor. In the case of Primary Yellow, only those of royal blood could take on the color of the Emperor.
This is where I come in. My grandparents on my mothers side are both Manchus. In fact, they are both full blooded Primary Yellow bannered Manchus. My grandfather and my mothers last name ? (Luo) is derived from the royal family clans last name
???? (Ai Shin Jue Luo). It is said the four-worded Manchu Chinese last name had to be simplified to a one word Luo for modernitys sake due to its length. Well, my dad is full Han so that makes me half Manchu. If the Qing dynasty was still around, I would definitely be half a princess.
Though Ive been told of my heritage many times, I never knew the history to really appreciate it. Thanks to the media, I have learned a lot about Manchu culture through TV series, movies, textbooks etc. Qing Dynasty is by far the most popularized ancient Chinese model in China domestically and internationally. Those traditional Chinese dresses, mens pigtails, lavish jewelry, hair accessories, golden embroidery, all that comes to mind when ancient China is concerned is Qing Dynasty and Manchu culture 90% of the time.
Whats more interesting is there are certain traits about our people that we all share. For example, my grandfather once pointed out to me that the fourth toe on the left foot of Manchus is abnormally short, especially when compared to the right foot. I did not believe him at first but upon examining other Manchus, Ive realized that this is indeed a fact. Today, I just learned on Wikipedia (Chinese) actually, that over 40% of Manchus are blood type Bs. My grandfather, my mom and I are all Bs. Manchus also tend to have naturally wavy hair or curls. Everyone on my moms side has that to some degree, my grandmother especially who has big natural curls that look done. Now I know why I have to blow dry my hair everyday to avoid looking like a walking human fuzz ball head.
If possible, I would like to learn how to speak Manchurian. It is a dying language studied and spoken mainly by historians and a few elders. However, the written language can be seen on the plaque of most major palaces and temples usually hung above the gate or the entrance. In that sense and the number of Manchus still around, the culture is still very much alive.