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The Jurchens (Chinese: Nzhen , Nzhi , Nzhi or Lzhi , also pronounced Ruzhen) were a non-Chinese people living in the northeast of China (modern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang). In the late 11th century they formed a tribal confederation under the tribal leader (qagan) Aguda . With a strong military organisation of all tribes they succeeded to subdue the likewise non-Chinese Khitans that ruled Chinas north. The Jurchens conquered northern China and founded the Jin dynasty (1115-1234). Ethnically and linguistically, the Jurchens belong to the Tungusic branch of the Altaic group, with the Turks and Mongols as distant relatives. The Manchus , founders of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), are their ethnic descendants. The Jurchens used a script (Nzhen wenzi ) designed after the model of the Chinese script (see Jurchen script). Traditional Chinese historians deducted their origin from the former inhabitants of that region, the Mohe from the region of the Heishui River . The federation of the Jurchens also included people from Bohai (the former Sumo Mohe ), Khitans and Mongols. When the Khitan ruler Abaoji (Liao Taizu , r. 907-927) destroyed the kingdom of Bohai, the Heishui Mohe submitted to the Khitans and adopted the name of Nzhen. The designation Nzhi has been used in order to avoid the personal name of Emperor Xingzong of the Liao (r. 1031-1054), Yel Zongzhen . In the 10th century the Jurchens lived in the area between the Changbai Range , the Songjiang River and the Amur River . They lived on fishing and hunting, but also domesticated animals and lived off their fields, at least the Jurchen living in the south. In order to control the Jurchen tribes, Emperor Abaoji transferred several thousand Jurchens to the south to be integrated into the Chinese and Khitan population. These people were called the "matured" Jurchen (shu Nzhen ) or hesuguan "shield, fence". The other Jurchens, especially those in the far northeast,

were called the "raw" Jurchens (sheng Nzhen ). Historical documents call the various tribes according to their living place, like Southern Jurchens , Northern Jurchens , Huanglong fu Jurchens , Shunhua guo Jurchens , Changbaishan Jurchens , Binhai Jurchens , Yidian Jurchens , or Aoyan Jurchens . Song dynasty sources also known the Huiba Jurchens , Donghai Jurchens and Yellow Head Jurchens . The Liao court of the Khitans enfeoffed all tribesleaders of the Jurchens as Great Prince (dawang or Prince (wang ), to rule over their people in the name of the Khitans. From the late 10th century on the family Wanyan gained control over a large part of the southern Jurchens. The chieftain Suike moved his seat to the banks of River Anchuhu (modern River Ashi , Heilongjiang). His descendant Wugunai imported iron tools and systematically improved the economical base and the social coherence of his tribe. At the beginning of the 12th century, under the chieftain Aguda , the Jurchens had become totally independent from the domination by the Khitans. Aguda unified the tribes and in 1115 proclaimed himself qagan and emperor (as Jin Taizu , r. 1115-1122) of the Jin empire . Like the Khitans before, he loosely structured his administration according to the Chinese pattern and had created a script to write in Jurchen language. His younger brother Wuqimai succeeded him as Jin Taizong (r. 11231134). He divided the Jurchen tribes into military units, the menggan moke . Within ten years this military machine destroyed the Liao empire. He was able to destroy the Liao empire and even conquered more territory from the Song empire (960-1279) than the Khitans had done before. Part of the Jurchens moved into northern China and slowly mixed with the local population. The Mongols later saw the Jurchens as "Northern Chinese" and treated them better than the southern Chinese. Another part stayed in the northeastern homeland and lived on as their ancestors had done before. During the second half of the Ming period (13681644) the Jurchens again became a strong federation and moved south. The Ming government

divided them into the most southern Jianzhou Jurchens (Jurchen also transliterated as Juen ), the Haixi Jurchens , and the "wild" Jurchens (yeren Nzhen ). The Jianzhou Jurchens, living in the borderland to the Ming, and economically highly interrelated with the Chinese communities in that region, founded the Later Jin dynasty under Nurhaci and eventually became the Manchus that conquered China as the Qing dynasty. While the southern Jurchens became the Manchus, the northern Jurchens were called Hejin (or Heje, today called Hezhe ), Solun (today called Ewenke ) and Elunchun (or Orocen).
Sources: Gao Wende (ed., 1995). "Nzhen ", in: Zhongguo shaoshu minzu shi da cidian , p. 145. Changchun: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe. Xue Hong (1992). "Nzhen ", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu , Zhongguo lishi , vol. 2, pp. 743-744. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe. Aug 21, 2010 Ulrich Theobald Mail