Tungusic peoples

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1612 map showing Tungusic land, by Isaac Massa

Tungusic peoples are the peoples who speak Tungusic languages. They inhabit Eastern Siberia and Northeast Asia, and are distinct from and not culturally related to the Turkic and Mongolian people. During the 17th century, the Tsardom of Russia was expanding east across Siberia, and into Tungusic-speaking lands, ending with the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk. The first published description of a Tungusic people to reach beyond Russia into the rest of Europe was by the Dutch traveler Isaac Massa in 1612. He passed along information from Russian reports after his stay in Moscow.[1]


The word Tungus derives from "Donki", which means "men" in Tungusic languages. Some scholars think it was derived from the Chinese word Donghu (東胡, "Eastern Barbarians", cf. Tonggu 通古 = Tungusic).[2] This "chance similarity in modern pronunciation led to the once widely held assumption that the Eastern Hu were Tungusic in language. However, there is little basis for this theory."[3]


Tunguska rivers, forming the western boundary

The word originated in Tunguska, a region of eastern Siberia bounded on the west by the Tunguska rivers[disambiguation needed][4] and on the east by the Pacific Ocean.

The largest group of Tungusic peoples are the Manchu, who in the 21st century number around 10 million. They are originally from Manchuria, which is now Northeast China. Following their conquest of China in the 17th century, they have been almost totally assimilated into the main Han population of China. This process accelerated especially during the 20th century. The Sibe are a Manchu subgroup.

The Evenk live in the Evenk Autonomous Okrug of Russia. The Udege (Удэгейцы in Russian; ethnonym: удээ and удэхе, or udee and udehe correspondingly) are a people who live in the Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai regions, also in Russia.

Genetic studies have revealed that 2–3% of the Tungusic people have Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA - from the maternal line) classified as haplogroup Y. Tungusic people show more genetic connections to East-Asians than to Central-Asians.


Distribution of the Tungusic languages

Tungusic peoples are:

Gallery of Tungusic people and history[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 4. By Donald F. Lach
  2. ^ [2] The Collected Works of M.A. Czap Marie Antoinette Czaplicka, p. 88
  3. ^ Pulleyblank (1983), p. 452
  4. ^ The Languages of the Seat of War in the East, by Max Müller, 1855

External links[edit]