The first known record of the Manchu origin myth is found in Qing documents dating from 1636. These documents provide an official account of the origin of the Aisin Gioro lineage, including the story of the ancestor Bukūri Yongšon, who is depicted as the Manchu primogenitor, from his birth to his ascension to the throne. This article argues that the Manchu origin myth reflected the dynamics of Manchu identity, which shifted from constructing a Manchu group to securing Manchu rule during the period from the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries. By tracing the development of this myth from its earliest version in the seventeenth century to four different versions that appeared by the mid-eighteenth century, written in both Manchu and Chinese, this article endeavors to shed new light on how the Manchus saw themselves, their ancestor, and their empire.
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