Naming Taboos in the Manchu Language: Case Studies from the Qianlong Reign

Vol. 48 No.3  9/2018


Naming Taboos in the Manchu Language: Case Studies from the Qianlong Reign


Lu Cheng-heng









Key words

naming taboos, Manchu language, Qing history, Eight Banners System


Manchu was the official language of China during the Qing Dynasty. Manchu language archives and texts are therefore important sources for Qing history. In order to use these sources precisely, it is necessary to broaden our understanding of Manchu texts. One question is whether naming taboos existed in Manchu writing. Focusing on texts and official records, this paper argues that those writing in Machu observed naming taboos. A second question is, since naming taboos existed in Manchu and in Chinese, how did the Qing Empire, as a universal empire, implement this rule throughout its multilingual and multi-ethnic empire? Looking at cases from the Qianlong乾隆 reign, I demonstrate how naming taboos were differently applied to different ethnicities and show that Manchu naming taboos were more rigid for Manchu bannermen than for Hanjun bannermen or Han Chinese. In sum, this article not only details the rules of naming taboos by providing a considerable number of cases, but also explores how the Qing Empire as a universal empire maintained diversity within its empire through naming taboos in Manchu and other language.


Author: Lu Cheng-heng
Genre: Article