A Manchu learner’s composition book?

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France holds a copy of a Manchu work(1) in which are found several short texts which seem to have been written by a Christian learning Manchu (a missionary?). Some of them are explicitly Christian in content (the Lord’s prayer for instance), others are more mundane and some even seem to have been written in a joking tone. Two of them are concerned with the learning of Manchu, here is the first one in which the author reflects on the fact that he must be a student of no oustanding ability since his teacher comes to teach him as often as possible:

bi tuwaci manju gisun tacibure urse šabisa i sure albatu tuwambi. sure oci hacihiyame tacibumbi. albatu seci heolendeme šušuri mašari tacibumbi. bodoci sefu mimbe albatui ton de obuhabi. uttu ofi sefu daruhai jiderakū. damu šolo be tuwame mudan mudan jimbi. albatu faksi mudangga moo be tuwancihiyame muterakū: mergen faksisai gala de isinjici uthai tondo ombi:

It seems to me that Manchu teachers look upon students as intelligent or ordinary. If one is intelligent, they teach him with speed. If one is ordinary, they teach him slowly(2) and meticulously. Upon consideration, my teacher put me in the ‘ordinary’ category. Consequently, he does not come often but each time he has the opportunity he comes. An ordinary craftsman cannot straighten a curved piece of wood; if it comes into the hands of a skilled craftsman, then can it be straightened.

I will post other texts from this work since they are often light reading with a few interesting lexical items.


(1) The work is mislabeled as are many others at Gallica. It should also be noted that although the lines on each page are to be read in the normal left-to-right order, pages follow one another from right to left.

(2) heole(n)dembi appears as “to be careless, to be negligent, to be idle” in Norman’s Lexicon but I think the context here calls for something without pejorative association, like “slowly”.



On hold

Due to other commitments, I will stop posting here for a while.

Since this blog never really served its intended purpose (see the Avant-propos/About page), it is not clear if I will resume posting.

“Beijing” in Manchu/Sibe

Prompted by a discussion at Reddit on the rendering of “Beijing” in Manchu, here are a few examples I have met in my readings:

1) In the official biography of Sahaliyen (Uksun i wang gung sai gungge faššan be iletulere ulabun, fasc. 2, f°32a (1)):

omšon biyade. taidzung hūwangdi be dahame ming gurun be dailaname beging de nikenefi. geren beile sei emgi ming gurun i yuwan cung hūwan. dzu da šeo i dame jihe cooha be afame gidaha.

“In the eleventh month, following Hong Taiji, he approached Beijing in order to fight the Ming. With many beile, he defeated the army of Yuan Chonghuan and Zu Dashou that had come to help.”

2) In a Sibe primer, Niyamangga gisun (2006 edition), vol. 4, p. 99 (2):

bi beijing be hairambi. I love Beijing.

beijing oci musei gurun i gemun hecen. Beijing is the capital city of our country.


(1) Published in 1765 according to the StaatsBibliothek zu Berlin website, but maybe written earlier?

(2) Same in the 1992 edition, vol. 2, p. 32.

“No different than a Manchu”

 In 1773, during the Jinchuan war, The Qianlong emperor appointed officials for each of the three roads to be taken by the army on its way to attack the Cucin. While doing so, the emperor praises the Chinese official Han Guwe Hing. The way he does it is interesting and shows how much ethnic distinction was a factor to be reckoned with.

Also to be noted is the fact that only in the case of Han Guwe Hing did the emperor feel it was necessary to provide some explanation for his decision. The nomination of the Manchu officials Šucang and Hailanca to the same post is done without any justification.

dzanla cucin i ba be necihiyeme toktobuha bodogon i bithe. dehi sunjaci debtelin: (f° 1a-2b)

jorgon biyai sahahūn coko inenggi. dorgi yamun de dergi hese wasimbuhangge. wargi julergi juwe jugūn i coohai kūwaran. emgeri ishunde mejige hafumbuhabi. ereci cooha acafi uhei dailame dzanla be necihiyeme toktobuha manggi. uthai cucin de cooha guribufi. dalaha hūlha be jafafi jecen i ergi amaga jobolon be enteheme geterembuci ombi. te coohai jeku elgiyen tumin. giyan i ilan jugūn obume dendefi. coohai horon be algimbuci acara be dahame. wenfu be jecen be toktobure jiyanggiyūn sinda. agūi. fengšengge be gemu aisilara jiyanggiyūn sinda. jiyanggiyūn jai aisilara jiyanggiyūn i doron be. ashan i amban fuk’angga be tucibufi. giyamulame benebufi. uthai coohai kūwaran de bibufi meyen i amban de yabukini. wenfu i jugūn de šucang be hebei amban obu. agūi i jugūn de hailanca be hebei amban obu. han guwe hing udu niowanggiyan turun i nikan hafan bicibe. cooha gaifi afara bade dulembuhe bime. daci kiyan cing men i hiya de yabuha bihe. manju amban ci encu akū. fengšengge i jugūn de. uthai han guwe hing be hebei amban obu. jugūn dendefi sasa dosime. abkai dailan isibume. amba gungge be hūdun mutebufi. aiman i jobolon be enteheme geterembume kicekini sehe. (1)

Military annals of the war against the two Jinchuan. 45th fascicle (f°1a-2b)

“(…) Despite being a Chinese official of the Green Standard army, Han Guwe Hing has taken troops, experienced combat, and was formerly on guard at the Kiyan Cing Men (2). He is no different than a Manchu high official. Consequently, appoint Han Guwe Hing as Councillor for Fengšengge’s road. (…)”

It would be interesting to see how this passage is treated in the Chinese version of the text…


(1) To be read here.

(2) I. e. the Gate of Heavenly Purity (乾清门, qiánqīng mén).