The Injustice of the Silk Thread

The Injustice of the Silk Thread

  The Injustice of the Silk Thread[1] Translation by David Porter, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University and Devin Fitzgerald Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University In an inner province of China, a man surnamed Chou and his wife had two sons. After their older son was married, they decided on a betrothal for the younger son with the daughter of a man named Zhou. Soon after, the parents of the girl passed away, and because the girl had no close relatives nearby to take care of her, the Chou family took her in as an adopted...

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Qianlong the Petty Tyrant

Qianlong the Petty Tyrant

David Porter Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University This post is based on a Manchu language lufu zouzhe (錄副奏摺) that I found in the First Historical Archives in Beijing on a research trip this summer. Readers may also be interested in taking a look at my post (also at MSG) dealing with the practicalities of using the FHA and its Manchu language collections. On the 12th day of the 10th month of the 50th year of the Qianlong Emperor’s reign (that’s November 13, 1785 in the Western calendar), the acting Provincial Judge (按察使) of...

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Who were the Manchu mapmakers?

Who were the Manchu mapmakers?

Mario Cams Ph.D. Candidate, KU Leuven When a large project to map the Qing territories was initiated early on during the 18th century, officials of various backgrounds were selected to form teams that would conduct the necessary field surveys. Nearly every team of surveyors included two or three European missionaries, a representative of the Imperial Workshops (Ch zaobanchu 造辦處, Ma weilere arara ba), top personnel of one of the main administrative bodies, a director of the astronomical bureau, and a banner colonel of the imperial guard....

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Two Encounters on the Riverbank

Two Encounters on the Riverbank

By Eric Schluessel Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University Consider the Ili River. Along its southern banks, in what is now Cabcal Sibe Autonomous County in Xinjiang, the Sibe were resettled as garrison soldiers in 1764. One of the first things the settlers did was to tame the Ili River: they built a dam to control and harness its waters. The river was a critical resource for a the displaced peoples of the Ili Valley – not only Sibe, but also Taranchi Turks, Chahar Mongols, and exiled Chinese, among others.   Apart from its hydrological and...

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The Librairie Française and the Manchu books at Capital Library, Beijing

The Librairie Française and the Manchu books at Capital Library, Beijing

Mårten Söderblom Saarela, Ph.D. Candidate, Princeton University As the former imperial capital, Beijing is home to many of the greatest collections of Manchu literature in China. Students of Qing history will all be familiar with the First Historical Archives and the almost-as-inaccessible National Palace Museum Library in the Forbidden City. The reportedly largest collection of Manchu books in Beijing, that of the National Library, will perhaps remain known to us currently in the grad school pipeline only through hearsay, since their...

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The Righteous Elephants

The Righteous Elephants

Donjina by David Porter Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University The author of the story that follows was a Daur man originally from Qiqihar named Donjina. Donjina lived from sometime around 1860 until sometime after the fall of the Qing, as is demonstrated by his mention of the events of 1911 in the preface to the collection of stories from which the following work is taken. Though born in the northeast of the Qing empire, as a young man Donjina was sent to Xinjiang to participate in the suppression of the rebellion of Yakub Beg. Following the end...

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Not All Khans Are Equal

Not All Khans Are Equal

Greg Afinogenov, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University In the fourth chapter of Sungyun’s famous Emu tanggu orin sakda-i sarkiyan—the Stories of 120 Old Men–which deals with “outer territory” affairs and Russia in particular, we find something odd: What is that strange dot doing to the left of the word han? Sure, an “n” in the initial position, and sometimes in the middle, will have a dot to the left—but this is clearly not the case here. The dot seems to have no discernible grammatical purpose. What’s going on? For an...

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Turco-Manjurica: The Turki Translation of Shunzhi’s Moral Exhortations to the People

Turco-Manjurica: The Turki Translation of Shunzhi’s Moral Exhortations to the People

Eric Schluessel Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University I have just had the pleasure of opening a Turkic-language translation of the Shunzhi emperor’s Moral Exhortations to the People (Ch. Yuzhi quan shan yao yan 御製勸善要言) of 1656. This copy is held in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin’s Hartmann Collection under the call number Zu 8390. The text towards the back of the work indicates that it was commissioned under Governor-General Tao Mo 陶模 (g. 1891-1896). The printing took place in late 1893: the Turkic text dates it to 1311 AH (July...

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Illuminating the Shadow Economy of the Banner Garrison: Manchu Language Contracts as Sources for Qing Social History

Illuminating the Shadow Economy of the Banner Garrison: Manchu Language Contracts as Sources for Qing Social History

Illuminating the Shadow Economy of the Banner Garrison: Manchu Language Contracts as Sources for Qing Social History Tristan G. Brown Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University Though relatively understudied, Manchu-language commercial contracts provide valuable insight into local banner life and Qing economic history. The exact number of extant Manchu language contracts is hard to ascertain, but in both the Capital Museum (首都博物馆) and the library of the Modern History Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences...

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Webmaster’s Notes: Trends from the Blog

Webmaster’s Notes: Trends from the Blog

Over this past semester, MSG has featured fourteen blog posts by scholars actively using Manchu materials in their work. It is occasionally tempting to dismiss blogs as nothing more than trivia, but putting these independently conceived posts into dialogue reveals interesting trends for the future of Manchu studies. The first thing to note is that Manchu studies has gone transnational. Many of our bloggers have focused their posts on the ways in which Manchu texts and peoples interacted in an increasingly globalized world. Why this...

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Manchu Folklore: Tales Told by a Bewitched Being

Manchu Folklore: Tales Told by a Bewitched Being

Hanung Kim, Harvard University The genre of folklore is a constituent part of Manchu literature, but has attracted less scholarly attention than other types of literature, perhaps because the strong imprint of its oral transmission renders it less accessible than other types of writing.  Still, some work in the genre has drawn the interests of a broader audience.  One example is the Nišan saman-i bithe, which, because it sheds considerable light on the spiritual activities of Inner Asian peoples, has been carefully studied and translated...

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Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of the Manchu Language

Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of the Manchu Language

Mårten Söderblom Saarela, Princeton University As a friend recently pointed out to me, Manchu translations of Chinese from the Qing period often seem to adhere to a method in which every character in the Chinese should be accounted for by one word in Manchu. (I use “word” here simply in the sense of a string of connected graphs framed by whitespace.) In the case of Chinese idiomatic phrases, this often leads to the Manchu translation being very difficult to understand if read without consulting the original Chinese. As I was...

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A Hard-won Work

A Hard-won Work

A Hard-won Work: A. O. Ivanovskii’s Manchzhurskaia khrestomatiia Gregory Afinogenov, Harvard University Aleksei Osipovich Ivanovskii’s academic career was not exactly an unqualified success. In1885, at the age of 22, he had just finished his undergraduate thesis when his alma mater—St. Petersburg University’s Oriental Faculty, Russia’s flagship institution for all things Sinological—appointed him to teach its Manchu courses. The venerable I. I. Zakharov, author of one of the finest Manchu grammars, had just died, and nobody else...

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The Journey of a Manchu Map

The Journey of a Manchu Map

Mario Cams, KU Leuven The Département des cartes et plans of the French National Archives preserves a Latin version of the map that is included in the Lakcaha jecen de takūraha babe ejehe bithe (‘Book recording the sending of an embassy to remote regions,’ or Yiyulu 異域錄 in Chinese).[1] This book, published in Beijing in 1723, relates Tulišen’s embassy to the Torgut Mongols, living just north of the Caspian Sea at the time, a journey undertaken between 1712 and 1715. Combining personal anecdotes with detailed descriptions of...

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A Tatar among the Tartars

A Tatar among the Tartars

  David Brophy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Centre on China in the World Between 1915 and 1917, the Tatar journalist Nushirvan Yavshef undertook a trip to Xinjiang, or Chinese Turkistan (Chīnī Türkistān) as he usually called it. The first leg took him from Russian-held Semirech’e up the Ili Valley to Ghulja, then to Ürümchi and Turfan. From there he headed south via Kucha to Kashgar, and along the oases of the southern Tarim Basin as far as the remote village of Keriyä. His first reports from this journey were published in the...

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“Learning Manchu” through Comedy

“Learning Manchu” through Comedy

Lei Lin, AM Candidate Harvard University Xiangsheng 相聲, commonly referred to as “crosstalk”, is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of a solo monologue (dankou 單口), a dialogue between two comedians (duikou 對口), or a multi-comedian conversation (qunkou 群口). When xiangsheng appeared as a performing act in the Ming dynasty, dankou monologue was the most common form; during the Qing, duikou dialogue surpassed it in popularity, and has since become the form that is most frequently performed.  This is still the...

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Gun Control, Qing Style

Gun Control, Qing Style

David Porter PhD Candidate Harvard University In February of 2012, Hing Chao, the Hong Kong founder of the Orochen Foundation — an “NGO dedicated to the cultural survival of numerically small ethnic minorities in Northeast China” — published an article on HongKongTatler.com lamenting the disappearance of the practice of archery among the Solon, a Mongol-Tungusic people who actively participated in the empire’s eighteenth century campaigns in Xinjiang.  Chao, who often writes about vanishing cultures and minority...

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The Cost of a Manchu Dictionary in the Guangxu Period

The Cost of a Manchu Dictionary in the Guangxu Period

Mårten Söderblom Saarela, Princeton University Lacking good information on print runs, prices, and distribution channels, it is difficult today to estimate how widely Manchu dictionaries circulated in the Qing (1644–1911) period. Frequent reprints and republications of certain titles indicate that there was considerable demand for Manchu dictionaries at least in some periods and places. During the height of Manchu publishing in the 18th century, the most important printer-publishers of Manchu literature were the Imperial Printing Office at...

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Living and Dying at Peking’s Russian Ecclesiastical Mission

Living and Dying at Peking’s Russian Ecclesiastical Mission

Gregory Afinogenov Ph.D. Candidate Harvard University In the Archive of Orientalists at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts in St. Petersburg, there are two volumes of manuscript exercise books composed by Russian students learning Manchu and Chinese at the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Peking in the 1780s and ‘90s. These are fascinating historical documents. On the one hand, they give us a sense of what studying these languages was like for foreigners, the texts they used, and the pace at which they worked; on the other, they tell us...

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Turco-Manjurica Revisited: a Closer Look at Haenisch 1951

Turco-Manjurica Revisited: a Closer Look at Haenisch 1951

Eric T. Schluessel Ph.D. Candidate Harvard University Historical scholarship on Qing Xinjiang (East or Chinese Turkestan) has experienced something of a florescence in the Anglophone world since the publication of Millward’s 1998 Beyond the Pass, and figures importantly in most accounts of the New Qing History, with Perdue’s China Marches West earning particular attention.  However, despite the NQH priority on Manchu-language sources, advances in Manjuristics have not yet made themselves felt in this specialized field. There are plenty of...

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Manchu as a tool language for European missionaries

Manchu as a tool language for European missionaries

Mario Cams Ph.D. Candidate KU Leuven Like some of the other missionaries at the Qing court in the early 18th century, the French Jesuit Joseph-Anne-Marie de Moyriac de Mailla (1669-1748) studied both Chinese and Manchu.  He is said to have started studying Manchu rather late in life, at the age of fifty.[1] Soon after, he started translating into French large parts of the Han-i araha tung giyan g’ang mu bithe, a Manchu-language translation and revision of the Tongjian gangmu 通鉴纲目 (“Outline and detail of the...

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Zheng Tianting on Manchu

Zheng Tianting on Manchu

Zheng Tianting 关于学习满文的一封信 Zheng Tianting 鄭天挺 (1899-1981), one of the great 20th-c. historians of the Qing, was the author of a number of important early works on early Qing history, of which 《探微集》is probably the most famous.   Shown here is a letter he wrote in 1962 to a colleague in the Nankai History Department, Xia Jiajun 夏家駿, who had written to ask about the utility of Manchu for research.  He writes in part, “Before, when I was at Peking U. teaching Qing history [between 1930 and 1937],...

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The Manchu Hymn and Epic Poetry

The Manchu Hymn and Epic Poetry

By Brian Tawney This post is a supplement to Manchu hymn chanted at the occasion of the victory over the Jinchuan Rebels. The form of this poem is similar to that of the Sibe epic poems Hašigar ucun and Ba na i ucun.  This type of poem consists of quatrains with AAAA head-rhyme, meaning that all four lines start with the same consonant, as in this second quatrain from Hašigar Ucun: han i hese wasiha, hašigar hūlha be dahabuha; hafan cooha tucibufi, halanjame anafu tebuhe. And this third quatrain from Ba na i ucun: mergen erdemungge abka...

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Manchu hymn chanted at the occasion of the victory over the Jinchuan Rebels

Manchu hymn chanted at the occasion of the victory over the Jinchuan Rebels

Elif Akçetin University of Illinois at Chicago Hymne mantchou chanté à l’occasion de la conquête du Jin-chuan Manchu hymn chanted at the occasion of the victory over the Jinchuan Rebels Hymne mantchou is a manuscript handwritten by Jesuit Father Amiot and addressed to minister and grand secretary Monseigneur de Bertin on May 11th, 1779. The document is a scanned copy of the original which is held in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. It contains an explanatory letter and a transcription of a Manchu hymn chanted to celebrate the...

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