In April 2012, I traveled throughout northeastern China to report on the Manchu language. Formerly an official state language during the Qing Dynasty, China's last dynasty, Manchu now is on the verge of extinction. There are more than 10 million ethnic Manchus in China, yet fewer than 20 native speakers remain. This short documentary introduces Manchu to those who have little knowledge of the language, and examines the reasons behind the decline of Manchu, the language and the traditions preserved by these last native speakers, and the grassroots efforts to revitalize the language.
A collection of songs and folklore central to Manchu culture can be found at vimeo.com/46063617, vimeo.com/46038383, vimeo.com/45524553, and vimeo.com/45659487.
This project was funded by an Eric Lund Global Reporting and Research Grant from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.