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Friday, 31 May 2013 08:19

How the Heilongjiang (Amur River) Got Its Name

How the Heilongjiang (Amur River) Got Its Name from Rowena Li on Vimeo.

This video is a companion piece to my documentary short, The Words of the Emperor (

In April 2012, I traveled throughout northeastern China to report on the Manchu language. Formerly an official state language during the Qing Dynasty, China's last dynasty, Manchu now is on the verge of extinction. There are more than 10 million ethnic Manchus in China, yet fewer than 20 native speakers remain.

In this video, Mrs. He recounts the folklore of how the Amur River got its Manchu name. The Amur River runs along the border of China's Manchuria, separating it from Russia's Siberia. Its Chinese name, Heilongjiang, means Black Dragon River. Its Manchu name, Sahaliyan Ula, means Black River.

Other components of the In Search of Manchuria project can be found at,, and


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