An entity of identity

Updated: 2013-12-12 10:28

By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

An entity of identity

Students at Hohhot's Manchu Elementary School wear traditional Manchu costumes and performance Taipinggu, a dance with hand-held drums.

"We plan to unite every personal effect we can find to categorize, save and study Manchu culture," says Yu Hao, secretary-general of the association. According to him, Manchu wedding rituals and taipinggu, or "drum of peace", a dance variety with hand-held drum, were added to Inner Mongolia's intangible cultural heritage list in 2011. Though the list is likely to include more Manchu-related items, he is not optimistic about the future.

An entity of identity

Deng people balance tradition in modern world 

An entity of identity

Behind mystic masks 

He explains many Manchu people had to change their names and hid their identities for decades after the revolution in 1911 toppled the Qing Dynasty and diminished many old customs.

According to the national demographic census in 2010, China has more than 10 million Manchu people, but Yu says most have adopted the Han's lifestyle.

Perhaps the most pitiful consequence is the vast majority of Manchu people can no longer speak their mother tongue. There are Manchu - language classes in China's northeastern provinces like Heilongjiang. Yu's association has introduced the language class to Hohhot Manchu Elementary School. Founded in 1957, some 800 of the school's 2,000-odd current students are of Manchu descent.

"Whether we will be successful in preserving the ethnic culture will depend on our generation," says Huang Yuhong, principal of the school. The language class is now conducted once a week as an extracurricular activity, but Huang says the plan is to include it as part of the school's curriculum in future.

"We've endeavored to open many classes promoting intangible cultural heritage to our kids. With such a large Manchu population, it will be embarrassing if the traditions fade away."