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The Daur ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

09:35, August 23, 2011

Population: 121,500

Major areas of distribution: Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Xinjiang

Language: Daur and Han

Religion: Shamanism


Photo: Chen Haiwen


The Daurs live mainly in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Heilongjiang Province. About several thousand of them are found in the Tacheng area in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China. They are descendents of Daurs who moved to China's western region in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Daurs speak a language related to Mongolian and used Manchu during the Qing Dynasty as their written language. Since the 1911 Revolution, mandarin Chinese has replaced Manchu.

The biggest Daur community is in the Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner, which was set up on August 15, 1958 on the left bank of the Nenjiang River in Heilongjiang Province. This 11,943 sq. km.-area has lush pasture and farmland. The main crops are maize, sorghum, wheat, soybeans and rice. In the mountains which border the Daur community on the north are stands of valuable timber -- such as oak, birch and elm -- and medicinal herbs. Wildlife, including bears, deer, lynx and otters are found in the forests. Mineral deposits in the area include gold, mica, iron and coal.

History

The Daur people are thought to be descended, along with the Ewenkis and Oroqens, from the Khitan nomads, who founded the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). They originally inhabited the lower reaches of the Heilong River.

In the early Qing Dynasty, the Daurs had a diversified economy which comprised fishing, hunting, farming and stock raising. They traded hides for metal implements, cloth and other articles from the more economically advanced Hans.

During the reign of Emperor Shun Zhi (1644-1662), the Daurs moved south and settled on the banks of the Nenjiang River, from where they were constantly conscripted to serve in the armies of the Qing emperors and in garrisons all over the Chinese empire. The Daurs helped to repel Cossack invaders from Tsarist Russia in 1643 and 1651. When the Japanese invaded China¡¯s Northeast in 1931, the Daurs opposed them and helped the resistance forces until liberation in 1945.

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