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Family Tree and Other Customs of the Manchu Culture

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The Manchurians have a unique way of life. In the beginning, the Manchu people were into agriculture. They grew crops such as soybeans, apples, sorghum, and millet. They added tobacco and corn due to those ideas being popular. They were also hunters and had tremendous archery skills. The reason for archery was because in order to kill the animals they hunted, a bow and arrow was used. The life of men and women have changed over the years. Before the Qing dynasty men and women were looked as equal. Women could have premarital sex and could talk to men whenever they wanted to. However, the Qing dynasty changed the way women were looked at and treated. The rulers adopted Han Chinese Confucian values and women didn’t have many rights. Women were not treated fairly and had to follow strict rules. Women could not go out and were told to stay in the house all day. They were expected to cook, clean, and look after the kids while the men could go as they please. It was extremely important to have a son to preserve the family lineage. Women had no right to their property. Their only achievement was being able to have children. If women could not have children, there family looked down on them. If a woman could not have a child, the husband would have concubine. Manchu women weren’t allowed to bind their feet, but other people did. They tried to stop it, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Women were also killed if people suspected that they were committing adultery. Today, women are treated better and have more rights than they did during the Qing dynasty.

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The Manchu’s have a special way of doing family life and marriage is a big thing in their culture. The Manchu’s really value monogamy especially in a marriage. Marriages are usually arranged and occur at ages 16 and 17. The groom was given many gifts by the bride’s family. On the wedding day, the bride must sit on the south “kang”. A kang is a long platform that is used for entertainment purposes. After that the bride and groom walk around the table three times while holding hands. After they sit down and drink under the candle from the kang. The family would congratulate them by singing songs. The newlyweds then visit the bride’s family on the fourth day. The living situation for couples is different for every Manchu. In rural areas usually three generations are living under one roof. In the city, only the immediate family live in a house together. There is even a certain that babies are treated due to Manchurian tradition. Babies are kept in suspended cradles. The reason is because while hunting babies were kept in cradles so the animals wouldn’t hurt them. 

Another tradition that surrounds the family is family trees. Family trees are kept in books and everything that happens in the family is recorded. Manchus believe that having family trees are important because it can reinforce family positions. Also, to make sure that newer generations known their family ancestry and to respect their ancestors. The family tree can be written or printed on paper or cloth and silk textiles. Every generation should have documentation. Middles class families just write the name of their ancestors while rich families have more data put in the tree. Middle class families call there a family tree list because its just a list. Rich families call there’s a family tree book because there has more information than just a name like middle class families. The family tree usually contains origin, pedigree, information about weddings and funerals, graves, names, and what the family member was like. The family tree is often kept by the patriarch of the family. When the family tree had to be changed there would be a celebration. During the celebration they would sacrifice pigs and lambs for their ancestors and gods in heaven. In modern times families don’t really celebrate like that anymore. Back in the day when family members passed on there was a certain way to bury them. When a family member died it was tradition for them to be cremated. However, in order to blend in with society they changed to the Han Chinese way. The Han Chinese way is just a burial, but some Manchurian still cremate their dead relatives. Furthermore, it was tradition for Manchurians to use Manchu names. After the Qing dynasty ended, they started to use Chinese names instead. Today, Manchus are started to connect with there roots and using their Manchu name instead Chinese names. The family is a very important aspect of Manchurian culture and the practices that are described show that.

Clothing in every culture has a meaning behind it and Manchurian wardrobe differently has a story. Traditionally Manchu men wore long gowns and mandarin jackets. Men wore a short jacket over a long gown with a belt on the waist. Riding horses was big thing back then, so outfits were made to accommodate that. Women wore a specific kind of dress called, Cheongsam or qipao. Cheongsam was a dress that was tight fitting with thigh high silts, a high collar and it had to reach the ankles. The dress started as a loose fitting but later became tighter as the years went on. The silt had to go all the way up to the mid-thigh. If were any higher the woman wearing it would be looked at as a slut. As the dress became tighter so did the design. The dress had to be below the knee, a high neck, narrow sleeves, silts on the right and left side, and buttoning on the right side. It was preferred for women to have slender waists in the dress. For eastern women the dress was worn to show off their figure. The dress became tighter because of Western ideas reaching China. A woman’s stage in life was shown by color. Red for the young, blue was for elderly women, and black for widows. Along with the Cheongsam women also wore earrings and embroidered shoes. The type of fabric used was specific for different social class. Linen was used rich and deerskin was used for common people. The rich used silk, satin, and cotton was used for common people later became the usual fabrics used for clothing. However, they adopted the clothing of Han Chinese people as the Han women started to wear the tradition Manchu gown, Cheongsam.

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