The Eight Banner System: Manchu Clan System Stage

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The Eight Banner system has ties that can be noted and seen as far back as the Manchu clan system stage. During that time period, the Manchus would set out in what were called hunting activities of which they essentially were engaging in military operations that consisted of usually taking a family or village population and organized it as an organizational unit. During other times of military and agricultural crisis in China, it was the way of the Manchu to organize their people into short term or temporary groups that were called niulu (groups). Through innovation and restructuring came the reform of this Manchu tradition into a long term formal banner organization. Each organized unit under the Banners divided the Nurzhen tribes into patrillineal sub units (belonging to their father’s lineage) that consisted of three hundred people which formed what is referred to as a company.

The Eight Banner system came into existence during the early seventeenth century by the Jurchen chieftain as Nurhaci. In 1601, he began by reorganizing and restructuring the Jurchen military forces into four distinct units that were called banners. A banner is a “flag or piece of cloth that bears a symbol, logo, slogan or other message.” These banners became increasingly important administrative divisions that also provided a basic framework for the evolving Manchu military organization. The Yellow Banner represents the Aisin Gioro Clan. The origin of this clan stems from what is modern day North Korea. It was this clan that would be the location of which the Qing Dynasty emperors would descend from. The elite Yellow Banner was under the control of the emperor. The White Banner represents the Sushin Clan. The people of the Sushin Clan lived and came from what is the Liaodong Peninsula, which is located off of the southernmost tip of Manchuria. The Red Banner represents the Xuxi Clan. The Xuxi Clan developed from the area that encompassed what is today’s Inner Mongolia...
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