Manchu ethnic group, with a population over 10 million, can be traced back to the Sushen people who lived 2,000 years ago. They were the earliest ancestors of the Manchu. In the Liao, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, they were called Nuchen. At the end of the 16th century, with the appearance of Nurhachi, the tribes of Nuchen were unified and a new nationality - Manchu, came into being, consisting of Nuchen, Han, Mongolian and Korean. With the founding of the Qing Dynasty in 1644, the Manchu reached its golden age.
Manchu people are mainly located in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, of which Liaoning has the most Manchus. Most Manchus are engaged in agriculture-related jobs. Their main crops include soybean, sorghum, corn, millet, tobacco and apple. They also raise tussah silkworms. For Manchus living in remote mountainous areas, gathering ginseng, mushroom and edible fungus makes an important sideline. Most of the Manchu people in cities, who are better educated, are engaged in traditional and modern industries.
The traditional costumes of male Manchus are a narrow-cuffed short jacket over a long gown with a belt at the waist to facilitate horse-riding and hunting. They let the back part of their hair grow long and wore it in a plait or queue. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) the queue became the standard fashion throughout China, eventually becoming a political symbol of the dynasty. Women coiled their hair on top of their heads and wore earrings, long gowns and embroidered shoes. Linen was a favorite fabric for the rich; deerskin was popular with the common folk. Silks and satins for noble and the rich and cotton cloth for the ordinary people became standard for Manchurians after a period of life away from the mountains and forests. Following the Manchus' southward migration, the common people came to wear the same kind of dress as their Han counterparts, while the Manchu gown was adopted by Han women generally.
Learn more about Chinese history, people and languages, please visit Why Study Abroad in China