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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Much ado about Manchu (2)

(Shanghai Daily)

08:52, November 15, 2011

Shi, who learned Manchu from his grandmother, was hired in 2006 as a part-time teacher when the village school was set up, with an investment of 2 million yuan. It was the first village school in China teaching Manchu. He became a full-time teacher in 2010 after further language training at Heilongjiang University in the provincial capital Harbin.

Shi now earns more than 1,000 yuan a month and spends his free time managing his family farm.

She and another Manchu teacher have compiled a set of textbooks for five primary grades. First and second graders learn spoken Manchu; from the third grade pupils also learn to read the vertical script. Manchu traditions are explained and displayed in an exhibition room at the school

Remote Sanjiazi village is more than four hours' drive from Harbin; it lies in the middle of a vast paddy field and is encircled by a river. There's one road out of town and there was no modern transport until 20 years ago. In the old days people had to get up before dawn, walk for an hour and a half to the railway station and then take a train to the county seat.

Because of its isolation, Sanjiazi is the only village in China where Manchu language is spoken and its traditions observed, says Dong Xuefeng, an official with Youyi Township, which administers the village.

Liaoning Province was the cradle of Manchu culture, but there is no other village there like Sanjiazi where Manchu is still spoken, says Guan Jialu, an expert in Manchu studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

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