The Western Manchu of China
The Western Manchu are part of the Xibe people, which are widely dispersed across northern
China. The Xibe are basically divided into two groups. The larger group is located primarily in the northeastern region of China. The smaller group, the Western Manchu, is located in the Xingjiang Province, which borders Kazakhstan. The exact origin of the Xibe people is not clearly known.
The two Xibe tribes existed as one until the spring of 1764. At that time many Xibe troops were dispatched from northeast China to help garrison the territory of Xingjiang. After a long journey, which led them across Mongolia, these troops (now known to us as the Western Manchu) finally settled in the northwestern territory of China.
The separation of the Xibe has resulted in many cultural differences between them. The Western Manchu have managed to preserve their own speech, clothing, and customs. The Xibe of northeast China, however, have adapted more to the customs of that area.
What are their lives like?
The Western Manchu live in walled villages consisting of 100 to 200 houses. These villages are usually located in areas that are favorable for both farming and herding. A typical home has a stove in its center, two to four rooms off to the side, and a door facing south. Each home also has a courtyard where fruit trees and vegetables are grown.
Among the Western Manchu, it is customary for the eldest son to inherit his father's land. Traditionally, their societies have been organized around the hala, a group of families having the same name. Each hala is made up of several groups, or mokon, having common ancestors. Recently, however, this has changed into a territorial system known as gashan. The gashan are simply groups of people whose members live and work together, but are not related to each other.
The Western Manchu are herdsmen and farmers. They grow wheat, wet rice, cotton, and fruits with the aid of irrigation.
According to folklore, the Xibe had their own script many centuries ago; but no evidence of this has been found.
What are their beliefs?
From ancient times until the present, the Western Manchu have practiced shamanism, or belief in an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits. Traditionally, the people depended on shamans (priests or priestesses) to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events.
A few of their gods included the Insect King, the Dragon King, the Earth Spirit, and the Smallpox Spirit. They paid special homage to Xilimama, the god who provided domestic tranquillity, and Hairkan, the god who protected livestock.
Although their superstitions and religious beliefs are not as strong today as in past times, their practice of ancestor worship (looking to the spirits of their deceased ancestors for help and guidance) is still a major stronghold.
What are their needs?
The Western Manchu (Xibe) have a great deal of respect for learning and education. In fact, many of them are considered to be intellectuals. Spiritually, however, they are a very ignorant people. Trapped within the religious practices of shamanism, particularly ancestor worship, they know nothing about how to call on the one true God who can meet all of their needs.
Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the language of the Western Manchu. There are not any Christian television programs or radio broadcasts available for them. The Western Manchu desperately need to know the Truth of the Gospel.
Governmental limitations have greatly hindered the spreading of the Gospel among the Western Manchu. As far as we know, there have been no Christian outreaches in the area of China where they live. There are less than 50 known Christians living among them. These circumstances, coupled with their shamanistic beliefs, make it very difficult to evangelize the Western Manchu.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Western Manchu bound.
- Pray that the doors of China will be opened to missionaries and evangelists.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Western Manchu.
- Ask God to raise up qualified linguists to finish translating the Bible into the Xibe language.
- Pray that God will strengthen and encourage the small number of believers who live among the Western Manchu. Pray for His protection over them from physical harm.
- Pray that the intellect of the Western Manchu will not hinder them from receiving the Gospel.
- Pray that God will grant missionaries favor with the government.
- Pray that as the Jesus Film is presented, many of the Western Manchu will turn to Christ.
See also the following Group:
The Manchu of China
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Western Manchu
- Country: China
- Their language: xibe
- Largest religion: Ethnic religionists (Shamanists) 99%
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 37
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 33,000 (18%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 150,000 (82%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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