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47. Manchu Ancestral Clan Spirits

The Manchu clan spirit comprise not only the ancestors but also spirit-protectors which are of non-ancestral origin. Practically the spirits of ancestral origin play a more important part and therefore they require more attention on the part of the clansmen than the spirits-protectors. Yet, the direct ancestors-spirits remain more or less unknown for they are numerous and only a few of them are remembered by the living generations. However, their names are now written down on the clan lists so they may have «worshipped» all together. Therefore the clans need to register the spirits-protectors which ought to be remembered and cared for by the clansmen. Since these spirits are of non-ancestral origin they might be better treated in the following chapter, but it would be inconvenient for in the Manchu mind the clan-spirit both of ancestral and non-ancestral origin are believed to be of ancestral origin or connected so closely with the ancestors that they cannot be separated. Owing to this consideration I shall give some examples of clan-spirits which are both of non-ancestral and ancestral origin.

Below I give three instances of p'oyun vochko (Manchu Sp.) [boigun vecheku, (Manchu Writ.)] of the Old Manchu clans which I have selected from my material for showing degree of similarity and dissimilarity. All of them are taken from the written records as they are kept among the Manchus.

1. amba wuse xala boigun beise (10)

great (1) wuse clan clan princes (spirits)

(…) (2) inegi vecheku n'ugan(8) taje(3) chuxai jaingin(4)

first section day spirits: Nugan Ancestor, Soldiers Commander;

j'aifen(5) inengi vecheku an'cu(6) fuc'ik'i abkai juse

second section day spirits: Golden Buddha, Heaven's Children

inengi icede b 'ja i ves'ixunde)(7)

on the new day at the rise of the moon

jamji vecheku cholo n'jai achulan suru s'jaru s'imge s'jaru ajara keku

evening spirits list: Niai-Achulan, Suru-Siaru, Simge-Siaru, Flying Cuckoo

momoro somoro


wujun wechen.

nine spirits.

2. Sakda xala boigun vecheku

Sagda clan spirits

inegi vecheku cholo sangg'in taje(3) sanzu nendu nunen tajechuxai jangin

day spirits list: White Pheasant Ancestor, Shanzu Nendu, Nunen Ancestor, Soldiers' Commander

men'i sefu (17)

Our Teacher,

keje pusa(18) fuch'ik'i jixa (12) nadan beise(13)

Kedje Bodhisattva, Buddha came, Seven Princes

inengi ichede b'ja i ves'ixunde

on the new day at the rise of the moon

jamji vecheku cholo

evening spirits list

xos'i (14) de texe xos'i (28) — nja-je-i(29)

in the corner seated corner,

elen (15) de teze endur'i (16) nja-je-i

in the house seated spirits,

naren nareiko nairgun x'janchu jar go jun gai jure-jukten (19)

Naren-Nareiko, Nairgun-Hianchu, Djargo-Djungai, Couple of Spirits

inengi ichede b'ja i ves’ixunde

on the new day at the rise of the moon

3. Guwarg 'ja xala i boivecheku juan dun soor'i (20) inengi vecheku wujun soor'i

Guwargia clan clan spirits fourteen places: day spirits nine places,

jamji vecheku sun'ja soor'i

evening spirits five places.

inengi vecheku cholo: chuxa jangin n'joxun beise cejin taixe(22)

day spirits list: Soldiers' Commander, Blue-Sky Prince, Golden Owl Taitse,

ihamu sefu n'iltamu sefu tarchime sefu abkai jusen

Iltamu Teacher, Niltamu Teacher, Tarchime Teacher, Heaven's Children

ais'in anchulan (23) ain'i dasatan

Golden Owl, Aimi Rulers (?)

jamji vecheku cholo abka chi vas'ixa amba s'jencho (24) sun be surdere

evening spirits list: Heaven from descended Great Siencho the Sun Revolving surei s'jenco Wise Siencho,

nai elen narxun (25) s'jenco sajen mafa (26) mudan ma-ma(27)

Earthen People Thin Siencho, White Old Man, Stooping Old Woman

1. The clan wuse has two subdivisions (gargan), - «great» (amba) and «little» (ajige).

2. There is evidently omitted wuju fen, i.e. the first section, vide infra 5.

3. taje is abbreviated form of dajeje (cf. Chinese) «great grandfather which is referred to the older generations in general, i.e. «the ancestors».

4. cf. infra Chapter XIV, Section 54.

5. fen is a Chinese word fen (to «divide»), which in Manchu is usually pronounced f'in. It is rather curious that the Manchus use a Chinese word instead of a Manchu word.

6. Anchu(n) — «gold» in Nuichen language, corresponds to ais'in (Manchu Writ.) = aizin (Manchu Sp.), e.g. aisin fuchixi. However, anchu now is not associated with «gold», «golden», but it is like a name of a special Buddha.

7. Inengi iche — the first day of the month (moon).

8. Names of spirits which cannot be translated with certainty are merely transcribed.

9. Wujun wechen — nine spirits (vechen = wechen; vecheku = vochko); i.e. four spirits of the day road and five spirits of the night road.

10. beise is used as an unusual politeness, cf. note 21.

11. The white pheasant is a heraldic sign used on the Manchu uniform.

12. Perhaps jixa is not «came» but «who responded on call».

13. nadan beise, i.e. «seven princes» are seven spirits, which may be seven Tathagatas — the predecessors of Gautama Buddha quite popular in Mongolia and Tibet.

14. Xos'i — is «corner» in the house where placings of spirit are seated; it corresponds to Manchu Writ. xoso.

15.Elen is understood by the Manchus as «family house».

16. Term endur'i is used as a polite, «good expressions to please the spirits.

17.Men'i sefu — «our teacher» which seems to be referred either to chuxai jangin, the founder of shamanism or to keje pusa and other Buddhistic spirits. Sefu is a Chinese word shifu.

18.Keje is evidently a Bodhisattva (pusa) which, however, could not be identified.

19.Jukten is also a term referred to vecheku when they are already invited. I. Zaxarov gives Jukten, — the «sacrifice» which is perhaps the original meaning of the term.

20. Soor'i is called the place occupied by the spirit in the system of clan spirits; cf. soorin (Manchu Writ.) — the «seat, throne, position», etc.

21.n'joxun beise, the first component can be translated as sky -blue, but it is a name; beise — prince — is an honourable title of the spirit, or even that of a class of spirits.

22. Chejin taize, the first component can be translated as «gullet», but it is a name; taize is the name of many Chinese emperors and here used in the same sense as beise (cf. supra notes 10, 21.)

23.Ais'in anchulan, I think here there is a repetition of ais'in and anchu, both of which are «golden», (cf. supra note 6.). However, anchulan is «the owl», «golden owl, with large ears».The etymology of anchulan is not clear.

24. s'jencho is rather a group of spirits.

25. narxun «thin», — may be used for showing insignificance of the earthly people (nai elen) as compared with «great» and «wise» s'jenco dealing with the heaven and sun.

26. sajen mafa, — grey haired «ancestor», vide supra.

27. mudan mama, — with round back (due to the old age) female-ancestor.

28. xos'i is a repetition required by the rhythm.

29. Nja-je-i is a refrain used in singing.

The lists of spirits of the New Manchu clans are much shorter and usually they contain a few spirits of day road only. The above lists may be compared with the list of g'joro clan quoted by Ch. de Harlez (cf. op. cit. pp. 17-18). The translation given by this author is not correct. However, I cannot venture to make all corrections needed. One may see that in g'joro list there are seven names which are met with in other clans, e.g. «noihon taiji» (corr. n'joxun beise), «ancu ajara» (corr. anchu-lan ajara, vide note 23. ajara is component of ajara keku). Yet, some other names are particular to this clan, e.g. the group of n'jangs'i.

If we analyse the composition of clan spirits the latter may be grouped into five classes, viz. (1) the spirits which have been borrowed from other groups, as, for instance, pusa, fuch'iki; (2) the spirits which have been incorporated perhaps from various sources including the old Manchu complex, e.g. the groups of s'jenco, cuckoo, owl, etc.; (3) the spirits which are not real clan ancestors but which might be Manchus who actually lived and became spirits e.g. chuxa jangin (Soldiers' Commander), the group of sefu (teachers); (4) the real ancestors of the clan, whose names are not now preserved; and (5) a large group of clan spirits whose names are recorded in the written clan list.

It may be noted that the clan lists are always supposed to be different and, according to the Manchu ideas, there may be no two clans with similar lists of spirits. Yet the list of clan spirits is a secret from other clans, so that the list, prayers, and significance of spirits cannot be understood by the outsiders. Of course, practically this is not always observed and in the case of g'joro Imperial clan, we have even published ritual, but outsiders are not usually versed into the secret and cannot explain all details regarding the spirit [303]. However, the choice of spirits is limited and every clan wants to have «good», famous spirits in its lists. Owing to this we meet with various spirits which are common for several lists. There is no doubt that the Manchus themselves sometimes know very little about the spirits included into their lists for the records are not always detailed enough and oral tradition cannot transmit all details. Another point of interest is that it is very likely that the Manchu clans imitated the list of g'joro clan and the g'joro published ritual sometimes served them as a pattern in which they must introduce some changes required by the idea that no similar lists nor ritual may exist. I think that a limited number of words and particularly adjectives used are sometimes incidentally combined, as it may be seen e.g. from the cases like ais'in anchulan, anchu fuch'ik'i, ais'in fuch'ik'i, etc. (note 23) n'joxun beise of guwarg'ja clan and n'joxun taize of g'joro clan; ajara keku of Wuse clan and anchu ajara of g'joro clan. Such instances may be increased being taken from the comparison of lists of other clans. So that for-malistic moment ought to be held to account for the character of clan lists.

As to the beginning of this system of clan spirits I think it is not one of ancient institutions among the Manchus, but is quite recent. As a matter of fact, the eclectic list of spirits of the clan of the Imperial family was made only at the rise of the Manchus as political rulers of China. The ancestral tradition did not play any important part in the old Manchu system, but it was probably confined to a loose idea of ancestors as it is amongst other Tun-gus groups. The chief reason for this was the lack of practical means to keep the names of ancestors. With the spreading of Chinese complex of «ancestor worship» the Manchus felt an imperative need of some spirits to be worshipped. They have picked them up from various sources and assumed them to have been bound with the clans. As soon as it was formulated in a written form by the clan g'joro the other clans followed the example and the matter was settled. Owing to this the difference between the Chinese and Manchu system of clan spirits is quite essential.

303. It is so to say in the order of things that Ch. de. Harlez could not find explanations which he wanted to have. Cf. op. cit. p. 17.

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