The Daur Nationality


The Daur is a people of Mongolian stock living mainly in the wo sides of the provincial border between Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In Morindawa Daur Autonomous Banner, in the northeast of Inner Mongolia, live a 30% of the Daur. There are also small groups of Daur that live in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Tacheng County).

The Daur population increased progressively since the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China.

1958 - 58,000
1978 - 78,000
1982 - 94,000
1990 - 121,000
2000 - 132,400

They have been known also as Daghor, Dagur, Daguer, Dawoer, Dayur, Takanerh and Tahuerh.

Image of a Daur hat from Xinjiang

The Daur language belongs to the Mongolian group of the Altaic family of languages. It has a strong Tungus influence. It has four mutually intelligible dialects: Teha, Qiqihar and Xinjiang.
- Qiqihar Dialect, which is spoken by approximately 40,000 Daurs living in Heilongjiang.
- Butha dialect, spoken by 40.000 Daur in the Morindawa Daur Autonnomous Banner in Inner Mongolia.
- Hailar dialect, whish is spoken by the 15.000 Daur living near the Ewenki.
- Ili dialect, which is spoken by 5,000 Daur of Tacheng County. With so marked differences from the other dialect as to make difficult mutual communication.

The scattered distribution of the Daur nationality makes difficult ascertain their origin. Some scholars think that they descend from the Khitan of the Liao Dynasty, and others that their origin was in the forest of the north of Manchuria. Subdued by the Manchus before their conquest of China, during the first decades of the Qing Dynasty they were conscripted and forced to migrate to some border defense areas. This was a response to the Russian penetration to the Chinese borders, and the arrival of Russian missionaries willing to convert the Daur people to Christianity.

In every Daur village, called Mokan, live people belonging to a patrilineal clan with the same surname. The hala is an organization of several mokan, with people with the same surname but belonging to different clans. People with the same surname can not marry.

Their religion shows great similarities with the Mongolian religion, with an oldest stratum of nature worship and shamanism, and a newer one of Tibetan Buddhism.

Their ancestors were part of this nature worship; every person has his or her own ancestral gods that the women carried with them to the husband's house after marrying. "Over the centuries, ancestor worship has made the jump from Han culture to Daur religion. Each Daur mokan and hala has a designated ancestral deity, usually a female, who is worshipped by all the people of the village and the surname cluster."

Further reading:
Du Roufu and Vincent F. Yip.- Ethnic Groups in China. Science Press. Beijing. 1993
Olson, James.- An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of China. Greenwood Press, Westport, 1998.

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