The Daur

Prior to the 17th century, the Daur lived along the Shilka River in modern day northeast Russia as well as the Heilongjiang, Zeya, and Bureya Rivers. Today, that region is known, among other names, as Dauria.

In the mid-17th century, the Daur came under the control of the Manchu, a fellow northeast Asian people who had recently grown powerful and established the Qing dynasty.

Feeling pressure from the Manchu in the south and the expanding Russians in the north, the Daur migrated southward to the banks of the Nen River.

Culture

The Daur language is Mongolic in family.

For centuries, no major decision could be made without first consulting a shaman, who acted as an intermediary to the spiritual realm. Today, each Daur clan still maintains its own shaman.

Among the Daur those with the same surname belong to a group called a hala, which spreads itself out over two or three towns. Each town is populated by a single mokon, or clan, a subgroup of the hala. The husband moves to live with the clan of his wife.

Sport is highly valued in Daur communities, particularly field hockey and wrestling. The Daur have traditionally played a version of field hockey.  The game was played with an apricot root for a puck and long wooden branches for sticks. Today, Western field hockey has been enthusiastically adopted by the Daur. In fact, a third of the 2008 Olympic men’s field hockey team came from Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner.

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