Chinese Name: 鄂伦春族
English Name: The Oroqen people
Languages: Tungusic languages 满—通古斯语系, Chinese 汉语
Total population: 8.6*103 (China mainland 2022)
Distribution: Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Heilongjiang Province
The Oroqen people 鄂伦春族 are one of the least populous ethnic groups living in northeastern of China. The Oroqen language belongs to the branch of Tungusic languages 通古斯语. The Oroqens are mainly distributed in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Heilongjiang Province. Due to the long-term hunting production and social practice, the Oroqen people have created a rich and colourful spiritual culture, including oral creation, music, dance, plastic arts, etc.
The history of the Oroqen people
Before the middle of the 17th century, the Oroqen people were distributed in the vast area east of Lake Baikal 贝加尔湖 and north of Heilongjiang 黑龙江, with Jingqili River 精奇里江 as the center. During the Tang Dynasty 唐朝, the area was brought under the jurisdiction. On April 7, 1951, the State Council of the Central People’s Government granted the Oroqen ethnic group the right to regional autonomy and independently manage the internal affairs of the ethnic group in the region.
The religion of the Oroqen people
The Oroqen people believe in shamanism 萨满教 with natural attributes and the concept of animism. This religion is closely bound up with the original ideas peculiar to the people. Their religious forms include nature worship, totem worship and ancestor worship, and shamans are messengers who communicate between gods and people.
The Cultures of the Oroqen people
The costume of the Oroqen people 鄂伦春族服饰
The costumes of the Oroqen people also fully demonstrate the characteristics of the hunting nation. In order to adapt to the roe deer coats and caps created by the cold climate and hunting life, the roe deer skins made by Oroqen women are strong, soft and light. The hat made of roe deer skin is exquisite in appearance and has a good thermal insulation effect.
The architecture of the Oroqen people 鄂伦春族的建筑
Historically, the houses of the Oroqen nationality mainly consisted of “Xie Renzhu 斜仁柱 “. The “Xie Renzhu” is the main housing of the Oroqen people when they are hunting, and it is conical in shape. The skeleton is made of several meters long main poles and multiple tree trunks. The covering is made of roe deer skins for winter, which needs to be sewn with more than 60 pieces of roe deer skins, as well as birch bark, reed curtains and cloth sidings.
Arts and Crafts of the Oroqen people 鄂伦春族的工艺美术
Oroqen women are good at embroidery. From the head to the feet, they are embroidered with patterns of flowers, birds, fish, insects and small animals, showing their rich imagination and superb artistic creativity. Oroqens, especially women, are also very good at making various daily necessities and handicrafts with birch bark. These items are not only light and durable, but also the carved patterns are realistic and beautiful.
Skin-cutting is a very unique art form created by Oroqen women. It uses birch bark and animal skin to cut figures, animals and other images as children’s toys. Carving is a part of the Oroqen people’s manual processing, and it is also used for religious supplies. It is divided into two types: relief carving and round carving. Relief carvings are mainly carved on birch bark utensils, while round carvings are carved with hunting knives on wood, pine bark, animal bones, etc.
The marriage custom of the Oroqen people 鄂伦春族的婚俗
The traditional marriage of Oroqen nationality is quite different from the current form of marriage which same as Han Chinese 汉族. The traditional one is arranged by their parents, and the clan exogamous system of monogamy is implemented. Most marriages between men and women are made by the man who asks matchmaking 媒人 to propose marriage.
Generally, Three times need to be completed for the marriage, and the last time is especially critical. After the marriage proposal is successful, agreeing on the date of the marriage and the bride price should be on schedule.
During the marriage recognition period, the man should stay at the woman’s house, the woman should put on new clothes for the future groom, and the future bride should comb her hair into two braids and wrap it around her head, which is a sign of engagement.