The Mystery of Coloured Vapours as Good Omina of the Manchu Khan Nurhaci’s Empire-building
(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)
Dynastic changes in Chinese history are often announced and accompanied by supernatural phenomena which were considered an expression of the heaven’s approval. The foundation of the Manchu empire by the tribal leader Nurhaci at the beginning of the 17th century is no exception: His actions and wars against the neighbouring tungusic tribews were characterized by many of such phenomenas, among them we find the appearance of “colouired vapours”. The colours of these “vapours” could be red, blue, white, green, black and yellow. Sometimes two-three colours appeared mixed together and forming a gate which could be interpreted as a “heavenly invitation” to Nurhaci to proceed foreward.
The present paper analyzes all these phenomena as found in the “Old Manchu files” (Jiu Manzhou dang); the exact meaning, however, of all these colours remains still without answer: they continue to be one of the many mysteries of early Manchu history.