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Tungusic peoples
1612 map by Isaac Massa showing Tingoesen landt (land of the Tungus, i.e. Evenks)
Total population
Approx. 11 million
Regions with significant populations
 United States200
Tungusic languages, Russian (in  Russia), Mandarin Chinese (in  China), Mongolian (in  Mongolia)
Various religions (including Shamanism and Buddhism)

Tungusic peoples are an ethnolinguistic group formed by the speakers of Tungusic languages (or Manchu–Tungus languages). They are native to Siberia, China, and Mongolia.

The Tungusic phylum is divided into two main branches, northern (Evenic or Tungus) and southern (JurchenNanai). An intermediate group (OrochUdege) is sometimes recognized.


The name Tungusic is artificial, and properly refers just to the postulated linguistic phylum (Tungusic languages). It is derived from Russian Tungus (Тунгус), a Russian exonym for the Evenks (Ewenki). English usage of Tungusic was introduced by Friedrich Max Müller in the 1850s, based on earlier use of German Tungusik by Heinrich Julius Klaproth. The alternative term Manchu–Tungus is also in use (Тунгусо-маньчжурские 'Tunguso-Manchurian').

The name Tunguska, a region of eastern Siberia bounded on the west by the Tunguska rivers and on the east by the Pacific Ocean, has its origin from the Tungus people (Evenks).[1] Russian Tungus was likely taken from East Turkic tunguz (literally, 'wild pig, boar', from Old Turkic tonguz),[2] although some scholars prefer derivation 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]


It is generally suggested that the homeland of the Tungusic people is in northeastern Manchuria, somewhere near the Amur River region. Genetic evidence collected from the Ulchsky District suggests a date for the Micro-Altaic expansion predating 3500 BC.[5]

The Tungusic expansion into Siberia displaced the indigenous Siberian languages, which are now grouped under the term Paleosiberian. Several theories suggest that the Pannonian Avars of the Avar Khaganate in Central, East and Southeast Europe were of Tungusic origin or of partially Tungusic origin (as a ruling class).[6]

Tungusic people on the Amur river like Udeghe, Ulchi and Nanai adopted Chinese influences in their religion and clothing with Chinese dragons on ceremonial robes, scroll and spiral bird and monster mask designs, Chinese New Year, using silk and cotton, iron cooking pots, and heated homes from China.[7]

The Manchu originally came from Manchuria, which is now Northeast China and the Russian Far East. Following the Manchu establishment of the Qing dynasty in the 17th century, they have been almost completely assimilated into the language and culture of the ethnic Han population of China.

The southern Tungusic Manchu farming sedentary lifestyle was very different from the nomadic hunter gatherer forager lifestyle of their more northern Tungusic relatives like the Warka, which left the Qing state to attempt to make them sedentarize and farm like Manchus.[8][9]

During the 17th century, the Tsardom of Russia was expanding east across Siberia, and into Tungusic-speaking lands, resulting in early border skirmishes with the Qing dynasty of China, leading up to 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.[10]

Ethnic groups

Tunguska rivers, forming the western boundary

"Tungusic" (Manchu-Tungus) peoples are divided into two main branches: northern and southern.

The southern branch is dominated by the Manchu (historically Jurchen). Qing emperors were Manchu, and the Manchu group has largely been sinicized (the Manchu language being moribund, with 20 native speakers reported as of 2007[11]).

The Sibe were possibly a Tungusic-speaking section of the (Mongolic) Shiwei and have been conquered by the expanding Manchu (Jurchen). Their language is mutually intelligible with Manchu. The Nanai (Goldi) are also derived from the Jurchen. The Orok (Ulta) are an offshoot of the Nanai. Other minor groups closely related to the Nanai are the Ulch, Oroch and Udege. The Udege live in the Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai in the Russian Federation.

The northern branch is mostly formed by the closely related ethnic groups of Evenks (Ewenki) and Evens. (Evenks and Evens are also grouped as "Evenic". Their ethnonyms are only distinguished by a different suffix - -n for Even and -nkī for Evenkī; endonymically, they even use the same adjective for themselves - ǝwǝdī, meaning "Even" in the Even language and "Evenkī" in the Evenkī language.) The Evenks live in the Evenk Autonomous Okrug of Russia in addition to many parts of eastern Siberia, especially Sakha Republic. The Evens are very closely related to the Evenks by language and culture, and they likewise inhabit various parts of eastern Siberia. People who classify themselves as Evenks in the Russian census tend to live toward the west and toward the south of eastern Siberia, whereas people who classify themselves as Evens tend to live toward the east and toward the north of eastern Siberia, with some degree of overlap in the middle (notably, in certain parts of Sakha Republic). Minor ethnic groups also in the northern branch are the Negidals and the Oroqen. The Oroqen, Solon, and Khamnigan inhabit some parts of Heilongjiang Province, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia and may be considered as subgroups of the Evenk ethnicity, though the Solons and the Khamnigans in particular have interacted closely with Mongolic peoples (Mongol, Daur, Buryat), and they are ethnographically quite distinct from the Evenks in Russia.


Distribution of the Tungusic languages

Tungusic peoples are:

List of the modern Tungusic peoples
Ethnonym Population Main country Religion
Manchus 10,424,785  China Manchu shamanism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, Roman Catholicism
Sibes 190,481  China Buddhism, Shamanism
Evenks 69,503  Russia Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy, Buddhism
Evens 22,487  Russia Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy
Nanais 17,514  Russia Buddhism, Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism
Oroqens 8,659  China Shamanism, Buddhism
Ulchs 2,841  Russia Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy
Udeges 1,538  Russia Shamanism
Orochs 815  Russia Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy, Buddhism
Negidals 565  Russia Shamanism
Oroks 315  Russia Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy
Taz 274  Russia Russian Orthodoxy

Population genomics

Full genome analyses on Northern East Asian populations, including Tungusic peoples, revealed them to descend primarily from Ancient Northeast Asians, with varying degrees of admixture associated with agriculturalist populations from the Yellow River region. Tungusic peoples display their highest genetic affinity with Mongolic peoples, but also share varying degrees of genetic affinity with Turkic peoples, which however have significant West Eurasian admixture. Tungusic peoples display the highest genetic affinity to Ancient Northeast Asians, represented by c. 7,000 and 13,000 year old specimens.[12]

Previous studies argued for a potential shared ancestry between Tungusic, Mongolic, Turkic, Koreanic, and Japonic populations via Neolithic agriculturalist societies from Northeast China (e.g. the Liao civilization) as a part of the hypothetical Altaic language family. However, recent data contradicts this because while West Liao River ancestry was found among the "macro-Altaic" Koreans and Japanese, it was absent among the "micro-Altaic" Tungusic and Mongolic populations.[13]

The Manchu, the largest Tungusic-speaking population, displays increased genetic affinity with Han Chinese, and Koreans, compared to with other Tungusic peoples. The Manchu were therefore an exception to the coherent genetic structure of Tungusic-speaking populations, likely due to the large-scale population migrations and genetic admixtures with the Han Chinese in the past few hundred years.[14]

Paternal haplogroups

Tungusic peoples display primarily paternal haplogroups associated with Ancient Northeast Asians, and display high affinity to Mongolic peoples as well as other Northeastern Asian populations. Their primarily haplogroup is associated with the C-M217 clade and its subclades. The other dominant haplogroup is Haplogroup N-M231, which was found in Neolithic Northeastern Asian societies along the Liao river and widespreaded throughout Siberia. An exception are modern Manchu people which display higher frequency of Haplogroup O-M122.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] 29/97 = 29.9% C-M86 in a sample of Mongols from northwest Mongolia,[22][23][24]

Haplogroups (values in percent)
Population Language n C  C-M217 C-M48 C-M86/M77 C-M407 O O-M122 O-M119 O-M268 O-M176 N N-Tat N-P43 R1a R1b Q Others Reference
Evenks (China) Northern Tungusic 41 43.9 43.9 - 34.1 - 36.6 24.4 2.4 9.8 2.4 4.9 0.0 2.4 4.9 0.0 9.8 0.0 Hammer 2006[16]
Evenks (China) Northern Tungusic 26 57.7 57.7 30.8 - 0.0 34.6 23.1 7.7 3.8 0.0 3.8 - - 0.0 0.0 0.0 K-M9(xNO-M214, P-92R7)=3.8 Xue 2006[17]
Evenks (Russia) Northern Tungusic 95 68.4 68.4 - 54.7 - 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 18.9 16.8 2.1 1.1 0.0 4.2 I1-P30=5.3
Hammer 2006[16]
Evens (Russia) Northern Tungusic 31 74.2 74.2 - 61.3 - 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 12.9 12.9 0.0 6.5 0.0 3.2 I2a1-P37.2=3.2 Hammer 2006[16]
Hezhe (China) Amur Tungusic 45 28.9 22.2 11.1 - - 51.1 44.4 0.0 6.7 4.4 20.0 - 17.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Xue 2006[17]
Manchu (China) Jurchen-Manchu 52 26.9 26.9 - 0.0 - 57.7 38.5 3.8 9.6 3.8 5.8 0.0 0.0 1.9 - 0.0 R2a-M124=3.8
R1-M173(xP25, M73, M269, SRY10831b)=1.9
Hammer 2006[16]
Manchu (China) Jurchen-Manchu 35 25.7 25.7 2.9 - - 54.3 37.1 2.9 14.3 5.7 14.3 0.0 2.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 DE-YAP(xE-SRY4064)=2.9
K-M9(xNO-M214, P-92R7)=2.9
Xue 2006[17]
Oroqen (China) Northern Tungusic 22 90.9 90.9 - 68.2 - 4.5 0.0 0.0 4.5 0.0 4.5 4.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Hammer 2006[16]
Oroqen (China) Northern Tungusic 31 61.3 61.3 41.9 - - 29.0 19.4 0.0 6.5 0.0 6.5 0.0 6.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 K-M9(xNO-M214, P-92R7)=3.2 Xue 2006[17]
Ulchi (Russia) Amur Tungusic 52 69.2 69.2 34.6 26.9 0.0 15.4 11.5 1.9 1.9 - 5.8 3.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.8 I-P37=1.9%
Balanovska 2018[5]
Xibe (China) Jurchen-Manchu 41 26.8 26.8 4.9 - - 36.6 26.8 7.3 2.4 2.4 17.1 4.9 0.0 0.0 - - J-12f2=7.3
BT-SRY10831.1(xC-M130, DE-YAP, J-12f2, K-M9)=2.4
Xue 2006[17]

Maternal haplogroups

The maternal haplogroups of Tungusic peoples are primarily shared with other Northern East Asians. Maternal haplogroup diversity seems to reflect some amount of gene flow with peoples living around the Sea of Okhotsk (Koryaks, Nivkhs, Ainus, etc.) on the one hand and peoples living in Central Asia (Iranian, Turkic, Mongolic peoples) on the other.[25][26]

According to a total of 29 sample from the mtDNA studies of Xibo, Oroqen, and Hezhen from China:

Haplogroup Pop. % Notes
Haplogroup B 2/29 6.89%
Haplogroup C 8/29 27.58%
Haplogroup D 6/29 20.68%
Haplogroup F 4/29 13.79%
Haplogroup M 1/29 3.44%
Haplogroup R 1/29 3.44%
Haplogroup J 1/29 3.44% Found 1 in 10 (10%) samples of Oroqen
Haplogroup U 1/29 3.44% Found 1 in 9 (11.11%) samples of Xibo
Haplogroup Y 4/29 13.79% All 4 samples found only in the Hezhen people
Haplogroup Z 1/29 3.44%%

283 samples from a mtDNA study of Tungusic Evenks, Evens, and Udeges in Russia published in 2013, their main mtDNA haplogroups are :

Haplogroup Pop. % Notes
Haplogroup C 121/283 42.76%
C4b 55/283 19.43%
C4a 54/283 19.08%
C5 11/283 3.89%
Haplogroup D 69/283 24.38%
D4l2 18/283 6.36%
D5a2a2 12/283 4.24%
D4e4a 10/283 3.53%
D3 8/283 2.83%
D4o2 8/283 2.83% (observed only in the sample of Evens from Kamchatka)
D4i2 5/283 1.77%
D4j 5/283 1.77%
D4m2 3/283 1.06%
Haplogroup Z1a 25/283 8.83%
Z1a(xZ1a1, Z1a2) 12/283 4.24%
Z1a2 9/283 3.18%
Z1a1 4/283 1.41%
Haplogroup A 11/283 3.89%
A4(xA2a, A2b1, A8, A12a) 7/283 2.47%
A12a 2/283 0.71%
A2a 2/283 0.71%
Haplogroup N9b 10/283 3.53% (observed only in the sample of Udege)
Haplogroup G 10/283 3.53%
G1b 9/283 3.18%
G2a1 1/283 0.35%
Haplogroup Y1a 8/283 2.83%
Haplogroup M7 8/283 2.83%
M7a2a 6/283 2.12%
M7c1d 2/283 0.71%
Haplogroup F1b1 6/283 2.12%


See also


  1. ^ The Languages of the Seat of War in the East, by Max Müller, 1855
  2. ^ Tungus. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 2, 2019 from
  3. ^ Marie Antoinette Czaplicka, The Collected Works of M. A. Czap p. 88
  4. ^ Pulleyblank (1983), p. 452
  5. ^ a b Balanovska, E. V.; et al. (2018). "Demographic and Genetic Portraits of the Ulchi Population". Russian Journal of Genetics. 54 (10): 1245–1253. doi:10.1134/s1022795418100046. S2CID 53085396.
  6. ^ Helimski, E. (2004). "Die Sprache(n) der Awaren: Die mandschu-tungusische Alternative". Proceedings of the First International Conference on Manchu-Tungus Studies. II: 59–72.
  7. ^ Forsyth, James (1994). A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990 (illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 214. ISBN 0521477719.
  8. ^ Smith, Norman, ed. (2017). Empire and Environment in the Making of Manchuria. Contemporary Chinese Studies. UBC Press. pp. 68, 69. ISBN 978-0774832922.
  9. ^ Bello, David A. (2016). Across Forest, Steppe, and Mountain: Environment, Identity, and Empire in Qing China's Borderlands. Studies in Environment and History (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-1107068841.
  10. ^ [1] Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 4. By Donald F. Lach
  11. ^ Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In R. E. Asher & Christopher Moseley (eds.), Atlas of the world’s languages, 2nd edn., 159–209. London & New York: Routledge.
  12. ^ He, Guang-Lin; Wang, Meng-Ge; Zou, Xing; Yeh, Hui-Yuan; Liu, Chang-Hui; Liu, Chao; Chen, Gang; Wang, Chuan-Chao (2023). "Extensive ethnolinguistic diversity at the crossroads of North China and South Siberia reflects multiple sources of genetic diversity". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 61 (1): 230–250. doi:10.1111/jse.12827. ISSN 1674-4918. S2CID 245849003.
  13. ^ Wang, Chuan-Chao; Yeh, Hui-Yuan; Popov, Alexander N.; Zhang, Hu-Qin; Matsumura, Hirofumi; Sirak, Kendra; Cheronet, Olivia; Kovalev, Alexey; Rohland, Nadin; Kim, Alexander M.; Mallick, Swapan; Bernardos, Rebecca; Tumen, Dashtseveg; Zhao, Jing; Liu, Yi-Chang (2021-03-18). "Genomic insights into the formation of human populations in East Asia". Nature. 591 (7850): 413–419. Bibcode:2021Natur.591..413W. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03336-2. ISSN 0028-0836. PMC 7993749. PMID 33618348.
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