Contemporarys syncretic cults among the Manchus
The last few decades of the Manchu studies have brought a significant revision of the common among the sinologists thesis on the complete Sinification of the descendants of the bannerman. In this paper, this aspect will be discussed referring to religious practices and beliefs, which can be connected to the construction of distinctiveness of the Manchus from other ethnic groups, especially the Han Chinese. What seems to be rarely noticed is that specific cults of the various communities might become an element of identification for a distinct nationality. For this reason, the description of religious practices will be preceded with the outline of the formation of the Manchurian social structure. A draft description of selected traditional beliefs will present a point of reference for contemporary Manchurian syncretic cults. The most important ritual practice in the context of identity formation seems to be the cult of emperors, which was combined with the Qing imperialism and ancient believes of the Northern nationalities. As the mythological dragon power was used as the source of rise of the empire, the Manchuria became the place of origin of the Army of Eight Banners. Although today’s Manchus do not necessarily share all these beliefs with their ancestors, many of them seem to have preserved these ideas in their way of thinking. Some of them even perform many types of rites referring to historical and mythological concepts.