Cultural Relics of the Eight Banners of the Manchu Exhibition

2.11.2007 - 30.4.2008

Jointly presented by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department and the Shenyang Palace Museum

Organized by the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

Upper Gallery

Nuerhachi, the founder of the Qing dynasty, was a Nuzhen. For generations, the nomadic Nüzhen people lived on the northern and southern foothills of Changbaishan, and in the middle and lower reaches of the Songhuajiang and Heilongjiang. Having lived in a cold and harsh environment for generations, the Nuzhen were conditioned from a young age to be warlike and hardy. In 1583, Nuerhachi formed an army in Hetuala and subsequently unified the various Nuzhen tribes. In time, he proclaimed himself the Khan of the Late Jin empire and declared war on Ming China. After accession to the throne, his son Huangtaiji changed the name of the tribe from "Nuzhen" to "Manchu" and the official title of his state to "Qing". While unifying the Mongol tribes, Huangtaiji was waging a large scale war on Ming China. The Ming empire was finally overthrown in 1644, and the Qing forces, taking advantage of the ensuing chaos, poured into China through the strategic pass of Shanhaiguan. It thus began the 268 years of Manchu rule in China. That the compact Qing forces could defeat far larger armies on the battlefield can be attributed to the Eight Banners military system created by Nuerhachi.

Martial prowess and archery were considered by the Manchu as the foundation of their tribe; every Bannerman knew how to ride a horse and shoot arrows. In essence, the Eight Banners system was the militarization of an entire people, with the infantry and cavalry forming the pillars of Manchu society. To give visitors a better understanding of the Eight Banners system and the martial culture of the Qing's imperial clan, we have selected certain military outfit of the Eight Banners and weapons reserved for the exclusive use by the court. These priceless artefacts from the Shenyang Palace Museum will bring this military aspect of Manchu history to life.