By the Year 2000 National Census, the number of Xibe in China (P.R.C.) was found to have risen considerably to 188.800 people.
Today's Xibe can be mainly be found concentrated in the village of Orion Xibe, in a water rich area near Shenyang in Liaoning Province, where some 50.000 live together near but not in their original homelands. Another majority population however resides in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region, near the City of Yining where some 30,000 Xibes live in the Qapchal (Chabucha’er) Xibe Autonomous County and in Huocheng County and Gongliu County.
The Xibe are another Chinese Ethnic Tribe with a fascinating history. Originally similar to the Hezhe People of North-West China (P.R.C.), the historic Xibe were a primitive fishing and hunting peoples of North Western China living on the Nonni and Songhua river valleys in central Manchuria.
The Xibe, as do the Hezhe, descend from the Nomadic Tungusic People. The Xibes however settled in Central Manchuria where they adopted a forest- and water-bound lifestyle of fishing and hunting with shamanist and animistic beliefs. According to historic accounts the Xibe occupied their homelands in Manchuria after these area's were left vacant in the 9Th Century War between the Han and the Huns, the latter of whom were defeated and driven westwards.
Although there were extensive contacts with the Han and many Xibe were assimilated into the Chinese Empire in the centuries since 900 AD, the Xibe Tribes original way of life of fishing and hunting remained in their homelands in the North-East until the advent of the Qing Dynasty in the early 16Th Century.
Preceding the conquest of China entire, the Manchu Tribes of North East China under Leadership of (Prince) Nuerhachi, united all of North China in the Qing Dynasty of the North. In the following period the peoples of the North-East, including even the Xibe and the Hezhen were organized into the Manchu Army of the 8 Banners. Through their inclusion into the organization of this large Manchu Army, the Xibe were then resettled and moved from the Songhua River (Jilin Province) and Nonni Rivers to their current homeland near Shenyang (Liaoning Province).
Through their inclusion in the Manchu Army and Society much changed for the Xibe. Not only were they resettled, the close inter-cultural contacts of the Time brought new knowledge and new cultures. As a result, the Forest-bound Xibe gradually changed their way of live away from hunting and fishing to adopt a sedentary lifestyle of agriculture. The success of the Qing Dynasty in ruling China (P.R.C.) promoted the Xibe, as part of the Manchu Ethnic Groups, to the high social status of first grade citizen. As a result, through the centuries many Xibe joined the Imperial Administration where many made high rank.
In the next Century, under Third Qing Emperor Qianlong (1736 AD-1795 AD), another event would change the history of the Xibe forever. During this period a war raged on for Xinjiang and the Western Area's. In 1759 AD the Chinese, led by Qianlong himself, conquered the Taklamakan Desert and the Tarim River Basin from the residing Islamic Tribes. Only Kashgar remained. In 1768 AD the west was finally conquered and officially named "Xinjiang" or Western Territory.
As it had done in the past, during the Tang Dynasty Era, conquering the West give rise to a different problem, namely keeping the West, pacifying and stabilizing it.
Among measures taken to solidify the Manchu Rule over these newly acquired restless tribal area's the old method of military force was combined with the equally old method of resettlement of Peoples. The "Honor" fell to Xibe.
At some time around 1760 AD,when large parts of Xinjiang had come under Chinese control, it was turned into a military region with a Manchu military governor stationed at the fortified City of Yili with 60,000 troops under his command. 1000 Xibe soldiers and Administrators were selected for the honorable task of resettling the West for and stablizing it for the Empire. The Xibe once more marched and were included in the Xinjiang Military force where they provided garrisons for the major cities and strategic trading posts of the region. They made their way to far Western Xinjiang were there descendants remain today.
This page was last updated on: May 28, 2017
The China Report
Ethnic Minorities in China and their Cultures:
Manchu-Tungusic Peoples, descendants of the Jurchen and XiaoBei in China :
The Xibe People still retain their own language, of which both a spoken and a written version exist. Their language is Altaic and very closely related to Manchu. Apart from Xibe Language many Xibe also speak the Kazakh, Uygur and Chinese languages. Due to historic circumstances and incorporated cultures in the Ching Dynasty Era, the Xibe are highly literate and multilingual. Throughout history they served in the Imperial Administrations as translators (Xibe in the Qing Imperial Apparatus traditionally translated diplomatic documents written in the Manchu, Mongol and Uyghur languages), earning them the nickname "translator people". Literacy among the Xibe is traditionally high. Today many Xibe have received University Grade Education and serve as professors, teachers, translators and administrators. Others are engaged in publishing.
The Xibe in the North-East of China have completely adopted the Han and Manchu food customs and other cultures.
Cultural Festivals of the Xibe coincide with the Chinese (Han) Festivals. These include traditional singing and dancing, and because of the strong military heritage of the Xibe horse races, wrestling and some very noteworthy archery.
Among Xibe a special day is reserved for the commemoration of Westward Migration Day, which always falls on the 18Th Day of the Fourth Lunar Month of the Year.
Traditional beliefs of the Xibe People are Shamanist or Animistic Beliefs combined with Ancestor Worship.
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The Xibe’s most important deities are the god of the grain and "Mother Xili." This latter is a goddess of fertility and a protectress of the home.
Even today ancestors' graves are cleaned and swept annually.
Some of the Xibe in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region have later adopted Tibetan Buddhism-Lamaism as their religion. Xibe, even today, adhere strongly to the principal of Filial Piety and a respect for the elderly. They are overall a friendly, warm-hearted and open peoples.