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Fu Yuguang: Inheritor of Manchu Shuobu

Updated: 2015-10-09 13:23:14

( chinatoday.com.cn )

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Fu Yuguang, an inheritor named in the fourth round of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritage Project in 2012 for Manchu Shuobu, was born into a Manchu family in Aihui County of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province in 1933. The older generations of Fu’s family spoke mainly the Manchu language at home, so Fu was exposed to Manchu culture from a young age. Taught by the seniors in his family, he learned a dozen voluminous Manchu shuobu works handed down from his ancestors and grew into an influential inheritor of shuobu in his hometown. Shuobu is an ancient art form of singing and recital on the Manchu world, which has been passed down by word of mouth for generations. Over the decades, Fu has collected, compiled and studied folk literature of ethnic groups in northern China, including the Manchu, and devoted his life to carrying out surveys and research on traditional shaman culture in the regions where the Manchu, Mongol, Oroqen and Daur ethnic groups reside. He has published a number of books in China, the U.S., Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea.


FU Yuguang, now in his 80s, is still busy with his thus far 30-year-long labor of love – studying and delving into Manchu shuobu works to save the art form from extinction. Since 2007 he has been working on the shuobu materials collected from his interviews and surveys to compile a series of books on the Manchu oral tradition. Two series of a total 12 million Chinese characters were published in 2009. They clearly record the rise and fall of the Manchu ethnic group and are of great value as regards Manchu history and the history of ethnic relations in Northeast China. Shuobu stories are often about warfare and the private lives of Manchu people and their ancestors. This genre is called ulabun, which means biography in the Manchu language. Before the Manchus conquered the Central Plains area, there was no tradition of recording history in written form among the group; oral narration by the chieftains of individual tribes or shamans was the most common way to record history and educate younger generations. Over the centuries, ulabun works that collect and pass down the history of different tribes have formed a Manchu encyclopedia that has become part of the canon of folk literature in northern China.

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