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 are recognized as distinct from Mongols and Turkic peoples. The first European description of a Tungusic people was by the Dutch traveller Isaac Massa in 1612.[1]


The word Tungus derives from "Donki", which means "men" in Tungusic languages.[2] It has also been suggested that the word derives from "tungus", which means pig.[2] Some scholars think it was derived from the Chinese word Donghu (東胡, "Eastern Barbarians", cf. Tonggu 通古 = Tungusic).[3] 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."[4]


Tunguska rivers, forming the western boundary

The word originated in Tunguska, a region of eastern Siberia bounded on the west by the Tunguska rivers [2] and on the east by the Pacific Ocean.

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

Evenks 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.

2–3% of them are of Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup Y origin.


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. ^ a b c [2] The Languages of the Seat of War in the East, By Max Müller, 1855
  3. ^ [3] The Collected Works of M.A. Czap Marie Antoinette Czaplicka, p. 88
  4. ^ Pulleyblank (1983), p. 452

External links[edit]