Jurchen people

Jurchen people
Chinese name
Chinese 女真
Traditional Chinese 女眞 ( variant)
Korean name
Hangul 여진 ( S. Korea)
녀진 ( N. Korea)
Khitan name
Khitan dʒuuldʒi (女直) [2]
Mongolian name
Mongolian Зүрчид[ citation needed]
Jürčid [3]

The Jurchen, also known by many variant names, were a Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until around 1630, at which point they were reformed and combined with their neighbors as the Manchus. The Jurchen established the Jin Dynasty, whose empire conquered the Northern Song in 1127, gaining control of most of North China. Jin control over China lasted until their 1234 conquest by the Mongols. The Manchus would later conquer the Ming and establish the Qing Dynasty, which ruled Manchuria, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang until their overthrow in 1911.


Siberians capturing a reindeer

The obscurity of the origin of the Jurchen is reflected in the confusion surrounding their name, particularly in older English works. It is recorded variously in different languages and different eras. [4] The apparently cognate ethnonyms Sushen ( Old Chinese: */siwk-[d]i[n]-s/) and Jizhen ( 稷真, Old Chinese: */tsək-ti[n]/) [5] are recorded in ancient Chinese geographical works like the Classic of Mountains and Seas and the Book of Wei. [6]

The present name dates back to at least the 10th century, when Balhae was destroyed by the Khitans.[ citation needed] Jurchen is an anglicization of Continental Jurčen, [3] [7] an attempted reconstruction of this unattested original form of the native name, [8] which has been preserved transcribed into Middle Chinese as Trjuwk-li-tsyin ( ) [n 1] and into Khitan small script as Julisen. [10] It was the source of Fra Mauro's Zorça [7] and Marco Polo's Ciorcia, [11] reflecting the Persian form of their name. [7] Vajda considers that the Jurchens' name probably derives from the Tungusic words for " reindeer people" and is cognate with the names of the Orochs of Khabarovsk Province and the Oroks of Sakhalin. [12] ("Horse Tungus" and "Reindeer Tungus" are still the primary divisions among the Tungusic cultures.) [13]

Janhunen argues that these records already reflect the Classical Mongolian plural form of the name, recorded in the Secret History as J̌ürčät, [8] and further reconstructed as *Jörcid, [11] [n 2] whose medial -r- does not appear in the later Jurchen Jucen [11] or Jušen ( Jurchen: Jurchen.png) [14] [n 3] or Manchu Jushen. [11] In Manchu, this word was more often used to describe the serfs [14]—though not slaves [15]—of the free Manchu people, [14] who were themselves mostly the former Jurchens. To describe the historical people who founded the Jin dynasty, they reborrowed the Mongolian name as Jurcit. [11] [4]

The initial Khitan form of the name was said to be Lüzhen; the variant Nrjo-tsyin (now Nüzhen, whence English Nurchen) appeared in the 10th century after the Khitans came to power in northern China as the Liao. [4] At the same time, the Jurchen were interchangeably known as the Nrjo-drik (now Nüzhi). This is traditionally explained as an effect of the Chinese naming taboo, with the character being removed after the 1031 enthronement of the Liao emperor Zhigu (later the Xingzong Emperor of the Liao dynasty) because it appeared in the sinified form of his personal name. [4] Aisin Gioro, however, argues that this was a later folk etymology and the original reason was uncertainty among dialects regarding the name's final -n. [10]

Under the Liao, a distinction was also made between the "Charted Jurchens" ( 女眞) who submitted to their rule and the "Uncharted Jurchens" ( 女眞) who lived beyond their frontier. The former were divided into the Jianzhou and Haixi Jurchens and the latter included the Yeren Jurchens.

In English, references to all of these names has been further confused by the numerous variant romanizations of the Chinese characters involved prior to the general adoption of Pinyin in the late 20th century. [n 4]