The Jurchen script, which is also known as Jurchi, Jurchin or Southern
Tungusic, was created by Wanyan Xiyin in 1120 and officially introduced
in 1145. It was modelled on the Khitan
script and contains a large number of characters from Chinese, many
of which were modified or distorted.
The script is known from fragments of manuscripts and inscriptions
on monuments of the Jurchen empire, from the Sino-Jurchen glossary and
documents of the Ming Bureau of Translators and from Ming inscriptions
dating from 1413.
The Jurchen people lived in the northeast of Manchuria before the 12th
century. Then in 1115 they conquered a large part of northern China,
including the lands of the Khitan people, and set up the Jin dynasty.
The Jin dynasty fell to the Mongols in 1234. The Jurchen people became
known as Manchus in the 17th century when they conquered the whole of
China and established the Qing dynasty (1680-1911).
According to the Sino-Jurchen glossary, the Jurchen script contains
720 characters - a mixture of logograms, which represent whole words
without any phonetic element, and phonograms, which represent sounds.
Compound words consisting of two or more characters were also used.
The Jurchen characters have a system of radicals similar to
Chinese characters and are ordered according to radical and stroke
Used to write
Jurchen/Manchu, a member of the Tungusic branch of the Altaic language
family. There are currently about 9 million Manchus living in northeastern
China, of whom between 70 and 1,000 speak Manchu. Most speak only Mandarin.
In Chinese, this language is known as 女眞 [女真]
In Xinjiang in the west of China there are about 27,000 people known as Sibe,
Xibo or Sibo who speak a language closely related to Manchu, though they consider
themselves a separte ethnic group. The Sibe were moved to the region in 1764 by
the Ch'ing emperor Qianlong.
Selection of Jurchen words
Sample text in Jurchen
The Jurchen font used on this page was created by Jason Glavy