An entity of identity

Updated: 2013-12-12 10:28

By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)

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An entity of identity

Song Aihe, a descendant of a Manchu general of the late Qing Dynasty, shows off his personal collection of antique artifacts from Manchus' daily lives.

Their descendants, comprising one of the largest Manchu communities in Inner Mongolia, have been exploring various ways to honor the history.

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About 10,000 Manchu people live in Xincheng district, one-third of the ethnic group's population in Hohhot. In Inner Mongolia, the Manchu are the second most populous non-Han ethnic group, after Mongolians.

Song rummages through boxes and proudly shows his personal collection of artifacts, which covers almost every aspect of Manchus' daily lives. He is a descendant of a general of the late Qing Dynasty, and he has a great interest in Manchu culture.

"Before, it was easy to collect these items," he recalls. "I used to exchange a kilogram of snacks for a large bag of old everyday stuff. I never took it seriously until 1997 when the collection industry boomed, and I dedicated all my free time to it.

"I only buy them and never sell any," he smiles. "I feel kind of like a collectomaniac, but it's worthwhile. These are visible history."

His daughter's wedding is scheduled for December, and he is busily preparing a Manchu-style ritual, which is known for its complicated process and fine costumes. He says some old items can also be used then.