top 200 commentsshow all 253

[–]Jamibia 597 points598 points  (9 children)

Absolutely fascinating, I love reading historic diaries, they provide such unique Insights. Thanks for sharing!

[–]Ok_Glass_8104 28 points29 points  (6 children)

Check out Ousama Ibn Moundir's

[–]Icharus 18 points19 points  (5 children)

I had trouble matching that last name, is this the correct source of your recommendation?

[–]Ok_Glass_8104 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Yup, I stand corrected. Also used the french translitteration

[–]krine5544 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Yeah, my heart would be pounding too, if i had just seen elephants who had been charging towards me head off. I'm guessing from the reference to them looking like hedgehogs, that it was a volley of arrows that persuaded them to leave.

[–]FalseStart007 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It really is fascinating, knowing about the battles and the outcome is one thing, but hearing the thoughts and words of someone that was there, living it is amazing. Can you imagine the fear and shock these people were feeling?


[–]worthrone11160606 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Same wish more were published as books

[–]Karvier[S] 340 points341 points  (28 children)

Any comments are greatly appreciated!

[–]Innuendope 213 points214 points  (3 children)

Thank you for doing this! I’m fascinated by the daily life and details of the past but don’t have the skills to read anything beyond 1800s English. Really appreciate you, this is as good as any museum exhibit for me.

[–]Harsimaja 11 points12 points  (2 children)

I’m sure you’d find 1700s English fairly easy to follow as well. A few odd spellings but otherwise much the same and in fact less flowery than a lot of Victorian verbiage. Early Modern English from the 1500s is mostly OK but some things will be missed - Shakespeare can be difficult without training but he was of course far more poetic and drew on a larger and more obscure vocabulary than most prose of his time.

[–]Everkeen 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Agreed English is suprsingly readable to about the 16th century then becomes pretty difficult. Honestly getting past the 'soft s' that looks like an f is the hardest part.

[–]KLR01001 81 points82 points  (14 children)

maybe he meant he sewed a tent (his own tent) and a saddle (for his horse) probably referring to repairs for both.

[–]Karvier[S] 89 points90 points  (13 children)

That was unlikely the case though, unless the author made a grammatical error. In the original text, he worte: Bi morinbe ulebume maikan enggemu. Maikan=tent, Enggemu=saddle, Bi=I(Nominative case), Morinbe=horse(Accusative case), so all these things(tent and saddle) were for the horse(the one with accusative case)

[–]AugustSprite 84 points85 points  (1 child)

Looking at Manchu saddles, the pommel is quite 'tented'. Looks like it was done to keep weight off the horses spine. I wonder if 'saddle ' is referring to the softer seat, and 'tent' is referring to the underlying structural elements we would include in the definition of 'saddle'? Otherwise: stirrups, and reins/bit/harness would need sewing/manufacturing. Another possibility is a horse blanket ... a kind of poncho for horses. It'd be basically a tent without poles. Did the Manchurians use horse blankets?

Pictures of modern Mongolian equestrians show a virtually identical saddle style, but with a fairly tailored saddle blanket. I wonder if that's what is being referred too. They'd absolutely go together.

[–]eranam 20 points21 points  (5 children)

I don’t know anything about Manchu, but could it be an adjective like a “tent saddle”?

[–]Karvier[S] 27 points28 points  (4 children)

Not in this case, Maikan is and is only a noun, to turn a noun into an adjective you need to add proper suffix after it. Something like -cuka,-hun,-ki,-ngga,-su,etc

[–]teff 42 points43 points  (2 children)

My first thought was that he maybe meant the horse's caparison

[–]Karvier[S] 37 points38 points  (0 children)

That actually sounds like a good idea and is probably the case.

[–]RedRabbit37 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I think this is the best guess here, but I’ll also offer a saddlebag. Still today tribal rugs are sewn together to form a saddle bag, often called “tent bags” or Chuvals. These are designed for traveling on horseback.

Caparison I think better fits our interpretation of the word “tent” and maybe is a better fit grammatically, but it’s a bit harder to imagine the writer cutting and sewing a custom shape to fit his horse then it would simply folding a rug over, sewing two sides together and maybe adding some tassels.

Apologies if I am completely off base, I just love these tribal carpet bags.

Here is an example of a much more recent tribal tent bag: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/447498

[–]Anotherdmbgayguy 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Is it unlikely that it would be a grammatical error?

[–]Karvier[S] 22 points23 points  (0 children)

It could be, i mean the author did made some spelling mistakes so he might make grammatical errors too . He was not a scholar or something and this is just his own diary.

[–]DHFranklin 7 points8 points  (0 children)

They had tents like Mongolian Ger to shelter horses. Horses sleep standing up and if weather is bad they won't sleep at all. Hence the horse tent.

[–]SuspiciouslyElven 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Bi morinbe ulebume maikan enggemu. Maikan=tent, Enggemu=saddle, Bi=I(Nominative case), Morinbe=horse(Accusative case), so all these things(tent and saddle) were for the horse(the one with accusative case)

The grammar is clearly different from English, in such a way that what looks like a minor omission in English is a big deal here. You did exactly what accurate historical document translation should always be. If you feel any uncertainty, note it. Good job on not throwing around an interpretation of the original based on the language you translated it to.

I'm curious what would a corrected passage be in the original language. Assuming they made the tent for themselves and the saddle for the horse.

[–]Karvier[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I think it should be :" Bi morinbe enggemu ulebume,mini maikanbe ulehe."(I sewed the saddle for my horse and sewed my tent)

In Manchus language jai= and , but unlike how "and" works in English, in Manchus here it is usually omitted .

[–]Regolithic_Tiger 37 points38 points  (0 children)

Outstanding work. Please keep posting this stuff. There's a lot of names that I glossed over but the story was really cool. I can't imagine being in a large battle like that and being charged by elephants.

It's not really clear how they repelled the enemy, but that makes it more interesting. You don't get the whole story, just one perspective

[–]GravityRain 27 points28 points  (0 children)

This is a post of incredible quality. You worked thoroughly on every part of it, and it feels like a breeze to read. Thank you a lot.

[–]alhazerad 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Absolutely excellent work. I'd eagerly read anything further you post

[–]TootTootTrainTrain 7 points8 points  (0 children)

If you published this as a book with the og text on one page, the translation on the opposite page, and your commentary as footnotes I'd buy a copy. I love stuff like this.

[–]PoopsWithTheDoorAjar 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Fascinating stuff! Thanks for sharing

[–]wubrgess 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I bet you look good wearing hats.

[–]hungry4danish 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Can we read the untranslated version anywhere without having to create an account or log in?

[–]FalseStart007 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I've read books and seen movies about Ma, but being this close to the encounters is awesome. Can you imagine the fear these soldiers felt? Thanks for taking the time to translate and post this, it's an amazing read.

[–]joshedis 236 points237 points  (14 children)

Poor guy, gets a gift of delicious beef while he is hungry only to discover later how it was actually obtained.

This was so cool, how did you come upon this journal?

[–]Karvier[S] 122 points123 points  (5 children)

Well you never know, maybe the author knew it all along, he just did not mention it. I was reading Manchus documents on Manc.hu, and happened to find this one there!

[–]Stormxlr 61 points62 points  (4 children)

Im a bit confused was it that the servant killed some farmers and stole their salted beef (i assume salted) or was it straight up cannibalism

[–]Karvier[S] 138 points139 points  (0 children)

The author's narration of that part was rather hazy, which I assume was due to the fact that the entire event was a bad memory for him. My guess is that they killed the native before slaughtering their ox for the meat.

[–]Thomas_Schmall 19 points20 points  (0 children)

He wrote "beef" , so unless there are translation errors, it's from cattle.

[–]cerberus00 47 points48 points  (4 children)

And they were actually punished, which was refreshing.

[–]Narxolepsyy 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Ikr? Far too often our squad leaders are not punished when a servant slays a civilian for his beef.

[–]mangongo 49 points50 points  (1 child)

Eh, I've got a little more sympathy for the people who were murdered for their beef.

[–]SuperCarbideBros 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It was probably particularly based because cows were (probably still are in some regions) kept to pull the ploughs in China. Slaughtering a ploughing cow without permission was a crime.

[–]QuarterSwede 276 points277 points  (1 child)

Probably the most interesting thing I’ve read here. Really enjoyed your added context.

[–]teratogenic17 57 points58 points  (0 children)

Also, a boon to all readers of English, forever. Thank you.

[–]traskca 137 points138 points  (8 children)

Dude that's so cool. How do you know the Manchu language enough to translate? I don't know anything about this time period or the current status of Manchu people/language so I apologize if the question is insensitive

[–]Karvier[S] 175 points176 points  (7 children)

Don't worry it is okay! Manchus language is now in a very desperate situation, but there are tons of learning materials on internet and to be honest, it is not really super hard to learn it ( though certainly super hard to reach native speaker level, but that goes for every languages I suppose)

[–]kirabera 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I’m interested to know what your L1 is or which language you’re finding is most compatible to learn Manchus through. This is a fascinating language and I’d love to learn more about it, or maybe even learn it myself. Great work, amazing stuff!

[–]AlexiusAxouchos 66 points67 points  (1 child)

29th,April: I was sick, I puked.

Same energy as the fellow in Pompeii who wrote 'On April 19th, I made bread'

[–]sdlhak 57 points58 points  (0 children)

reading someones work from almost 4 centuries ago must be something .... this is awesome.

[–]SnabDedraterEdave 51 points52 points  (5 children)

This was during the Revolt of the Three Feudatories from 1673 - 1681 led by Wu Sangui. Though the rebellion quickly fizzled out with a whimper as Wu Sangui died of old age in the middle of the campaign.

descended from the seemingly unbreakable great wall and achieved their great feat of conquering Northern China,

This is actually all thanks to Wu Sangui, who was then a Ming general in charge of guarding the main gate of the Great Wall at Shanhai Pass, and decided to let the Manchus through in the name of taking out the rebel Li Zicheng who conquered the Ming capital Beijing, forcing the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen to take his own life. (But legend has it that the real reason Wu Sangui let the Manchus in was because Li Zicheng was sleeping with his lover who was in Beijing at the time)

Granted, the Ming dynasty would have inevitably collapsed anyway even if Wu Sangui did not let the Manchus in, though the Manchus would have taken longer to conquer China.

The Manchus rewarded Wu Sangui's treachery with a fiefdom in Yunnan in the southwest borders of China. But Wu Sangui felt short changed at being sent to basically the remote borderlands for his help in helping the Manchus conquer China, and so decided take advantage of the Kangxi Emperor still being young to start a rebellion. But he underestimated Kangxi's leadership abilities.

In the Chinese language, "Wu Sangui" became a byword for "traitor" due to him betraying both the Ming and Qing dynasties, not unlike how "quisling", named after Norweigian Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling, was used in European languages.

[–]Karvier[S] 15 points16 points  (3 children)

BTW, Kang xi means Elhetaifin in Manchus language as it was mentioned in my commentary of this diary.

[–]Sartorial_Groot 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Do you know which 8 banner unit he’s from?

[–]Karvier[S] 11 points12 points  (1 child)

He did not directly mention it in his diary. In one subsequent entry, he wrote that one day the bordered blue bannermen received a forced-march order, and he then started to talk about how he and his troops were marching . So we could assume that he was, at a time of his military's career, commanding a unit that belonged to the bordered blue banner. But that was far from certain, and it did not necessarily mean that he came from the said banner.

[–]Sartorial_Groot 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Just out of curiosity. Bc they were still formidable fighting force until much later, not just Manchu banners but also Mongol n Han Banner as well, also their right to salaries from the government

[–]eternaloctober 34 points35 points  (0 children)

the manchu script looks really cool https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchu_language awesome find OP

[–]SteakShake69 25 points26 points  (0 children)

As a linguistics nerd with a hard-on for Tungusic languages, you've made my night. Fascinating stuff.

[–]MrBeer4me 38 points39 points  (8 children)

Awesome thank you.

The author uses a fair bit of cursing in his diary. I was wondering if there is a more literal translation of the curse word? For example below he says “fuck.”

“The image of the old men emerged in my heart, fuck.”

Did the curse word literally translate to pig shit or something?

Also funny how soldier across time and culture get drunk and dress like women to entertain each other.

[–]Karvier[S] 37 points38 points  (7 children)

In the original Manchu text he used the word alixaha, which is the past tense of the verb alixambi, . Alixambi's literal meanings are annoy and feel lonely.

[–]ZorevelynPH 11 points12 points  (6 children)

Since the word literally translates to annoy/feel lonely, why would you translate it to "fuck" instead. Wouldn't it be better to translate it to something like "I was annoyed." Sorry if it sounds condescending, I'm still trying to grasp languages and its nuances :D

[–]Karvier[S] 24 points25 points  (2 children)

I was trying to make it sound more colloquial

[–]ThisFreaknGuy 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I think it fit better the way you wrote it. Bravo

[–]Karvier[S] 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Beside, since alixambi got two different meaning and i was not sure which one fit best into the context, I thought it would be better to use an exclamation to express the feeling.

[–]autumntraveler 45 points46 points  (4 children)

I’m partial as I’m from Manchuria but it’s the most beautiful looking written language imo, a definite improvement on the Mongolian script upon which it’s based. My university in the US offered courses, but I was already too tied up learning another difficult non-dead language.

[–]Barachiel1976 21 points22 points  (2 children)

There are several languages where their scripts just feel like works of art. I don't want to insult anyone by getting the name wrong, but there's a certain language from the middle east in particular that I could look at all day. Can't read a word of it!

While English certainly lags in that regard, "cursive" writing does try to close the gap some.

[–]bwv1056 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I've always liked written Arabic, very aesthetically pleasing to me.

[–]Ellada_ 12 points13 points  (0 children)

There is a stark systematic beauty to the latin strict, especially in its original form without lower case. Its looks powerful on building facades for example in way that arabic doesn't I think.

[–]azel128 12 points13 points  (3 children)

That was an incredible read. Thank you! I know very little about history from the time period in this part of the world, but I’d love to read more. Any books or articles you’d recommend?

[–]Karvier[S] 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Well the thing is, nowadays most of the books about this time period was based on Chinese literary sources since not many people can still understand the Manchus language. And the Chinese narrative was sometime not really..... very accurate let's say. But if you want to know the basic story, you could go check the second link I provided in the bottom of this post!

[–]CookieKeeperN2 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I have to disagree.

Qing dynasty records were meticulously kept and you can find the original texts online. The text is relatively modern and easy to understand to anyone who speaks modern Chinese. The Manchurian versions were also kept and can be studied. Compared to early dynasties, original records at the time were all saved and therefore their histories were well understood.

Plus there is a concerted effort to teach qing dynasty historians because so many records were written in Manchurian.

Plus plenty records are kept in Taiwan, Japan and the rest of the world. The CPC put a huge distortion on recent history (after 1840) and certain dynasties (especially Qin) but the interpretation of early Qing history is widely agreed upon in the Chinese language speaking world.

[–]CookieKeeperN2 4 points5 points  (0 children)

As a Chinese, early qing/late Ming history is actually pretty interesting. Kang Xi overall was one of the most capable emperors in Chinese history. Read Wikipedia page on him and you'll be amazed by what kind of life he led, from him ascending to the throne to the event of his death.

There are plenty scholars studying history in Taiwan as well. Early Qing history is one of the most commonly agreed pieces of history mostly because there isn't much to distort.

[–]captain-burrito 9 points10 points  (0 children)

29th,April: I was sick, I puked.

That's pretty much the style of my diary entries when I was a kid.

[–]its_davo_bro 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Amazing, the soldiers got drunk, dressed up like women and sang songs for entertainment.

My grandfather was a soldier and told stories of doing this during WW2. My father was a soldier too and I’ve seen them do the same, guess some things never change.

[–]AndrewWOz 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Amazing work, not what I expected to be reading today but I found it intriguing.

[–]essenceofreddit 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Thanks for translating this and typing it all out this is quite fascinating

[–]amystarr 13 points14 points  (3 children)

Did they eat the natives? I’m confused.

[–]Karvier[S] 33 points34 points  (1 child)

The author's narration of that part was hazy, which I assume was due to the fact that the entire event was a bad memory for him. My guess is that they killed the native before slaughtering their ox for the meat.

[–]amystarr 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Ah, of course. Thank you :)

[–]oinkiii_dawnkki 5 points6 points  (1 child)

amazing! may i ask how did you get this valuable diary and how did you manage to gather up so muchhhh information (wiki? scholarly article?)

[–]Karvier[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You should go check out the source section of this post(at the end of it), and you could get a looooot of untranslated Manchus literary source from the link i provided there!

[–]Warronius 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Amazing , thank you so much I read it all . That was excellent .

[–]Belzebutt 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Really cool read, thank you for sharing.

[–]Makaneek 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Best dramatic anthology I've read in a long while, my goofy ahh imagined the whole thing animated like Mulan. Also the end reminded me of the battle of Beth-Zechariah in 1 Maccabees.

[–]frowavay1 10 points11 points  (1 child)

The New Years cross-dressing after divine offerings is VERY interesting from a spiritual perspective. There’s a long history of hermaphroditism amongst deities. Also interesting this happened in precipitation to battle. Thank you for sharing!

[–]Karvier[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

I do believe there were some remains of the old matriarchal society in the culture of the Manchus by that time. After all, their chief deities were three goddesses before 17th century.

[–]Beanz_3565 5 points6 points  (5 children)

How did you stumble upon this diary?

[–]Karvier[S] 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Check out the source section of this post( at the end of it), I provided a link to a website which has a loooots of untranslated Manchus primary sources in it.

[–]woahwoahwoahthere 5 points6 points  (3 children)

Could you keep translating lol? I really enjoyed all of that and need to know what happens next

[–]Karvier[S] 36 points37 points  (2 children)

I could do further translation when I get the time and mood.


the author’s unit was hit by a brutal epidemic almost immediately after the elephant battle, many of his companions died, including Hooxan and general Manggitu. He was devastated because of all these, he wrote:” I have to cry under my blanket (to avoid being seen by his subordinates)”.But he himself survived the war and went back to his home at the end of this three years campaign.

[–]yonlop 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the spoilers, it is a fascinating read.

[–]Malthus1 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This is awesome work!

I know next to nothing of this time and place, but reading this translated diary plus the very helpful commentary really pulled me in.

May I ask, is translating this something you are doing as a personal project, or for publication? Do you plan to translate more?


[–]Acceptable_Wall4085 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Excellent reading. Certainly above regular reddit standards.

[–]philter25 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This is really amazing. Do you happen to have a version of this like a Google doc or PDF that has your notes as footnotes or comments on the side?

[–]PerformanceNow 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I'll bet this guy never even dreamed his diary would go viral 350 years later and be read by thousands of people all over the world.

[–]Future-Studio-9380 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Conquered, the Han conquer

Only the Mongolians survived their conquest of China culturally intact from what I can tell

[–]Theoldage2147 3 points4 points  (0 children)

That's why it was so short lived because their ruling class were hell bent on ruling the country the same way they ruled Mongol and it didn't work out.

[–]oromis7901 3 points4 points  (0 children)

This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen

[–]polymathicAK47 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Where does one learn how to read Manchu from that era?

[–]SpaceShipRat 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I love the difference between "And the mighty baturu(meaning great warrior), the man born for war, the governor of Yun Gui, general Zhao liang dong"

and my man general Mangittu, who either gets misspelled or called "Mang".

[–]Karvier[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

And you also misspelled Manggitu's name, I guess something never change, poor Mang.

[–]prozergter 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Dude this is amazing. This Machu guy reads exactly like a modern Corporal (squad leader) would think and act. The bitching and complaining by lower ranking troops when ordered to do work or patrolling the camp in full armor and gear, it’s just spot on!

[–]iamfromanislandd 3 points4 points  (0 children)


Thank you for taking the time to do this and share with us.

[–]Expresslane_ 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Excellent work, fascinating look into Manchu army life.

[–]Wastedbackpacker 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Thank you!

[–]NoSitRecords 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Wow this is absolutely amazing! Definitely be getting deeper into it later, thank you so much for sharing this!

[–]thinksoftchildren 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Fantastic! Incredibly interesting read, thank you for this

[–]Jestersage 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Does Manchurian language also utilize a different official composition and a more common composition? (Ie: compare between Ming's official records which use full on classical chinese, the semi classical/poetic composition of Journey to the West, and the common-tongue modern sounding composition of Golden Vase Plum)

[–]Karvier[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

No, the language remains the same, whether you write it or speak it, regardless of the situation and form. The difference was very minimal.

[–]Cujomenge 4 points5 points  (0 children)

This was amazing. Thank you for the work and for sharing a piece of history from a primary source that would otherwise be forgotten. The comments were exceedingly useful... but now I must know... Do horses need tents?

[–]Mangleger 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Thanks for putting a person to this event. When I read The Search for Modern China, this era stuck with me the most, and I think Spence highlighted it as very very important for everything that came after.

[–]turbodogger 3 points4 points  (1 child)

[–]Karvier[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Nice, though it is not bad to have some variation of translation.

[–]grixit 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Yeah, my heart would be pounding too, if i had just seen elephants who had been charging towards me head off. I'm guessing from the reference to them looking like hedgehogs, that it was a volley of arrows that persuaded them to leave.

[–]missannthrope1 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Stunning. Thanks for all your hard work.

[–]paperfett 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This was an amazing read. I couldn't imagine facing those elephants.

[–]starWill1 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is beyond cool. Many thanks!

[–]fUll951 2 points3 points  (2 children)

The entries really escalate towards the end.

[–]AverageATuin 2 points3 points  (2 children)

So he was disgusted/annoyed at the soldiers getting drunk and dressing in women’s clothes? Was the song they were singing offensive? Was that a “the elders would be appalled at this” type remark?

[–]Karvier[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think he missed his parents, and he choose to play tough and refused to admit it even in his own diary

[–]quantdave 1 point2 points  (5 children)

Fascinating. Luckily for the Manchus they seem not to have been quite so few, Elliott &c concluding that the booi bondservant element was mostly Manchu: its small growth in 1657-1720 while the Manchu Eight-Banner count tripled suggests that many were incorporated in the regular Banner forces in the interim.

I'm intrigued by the reference to digging a hole in the ground to hull the rice: was this a common practice, and how did it work? Did it soften the husk preparatory to milling, or make milling unnecessary?

[–]War_Hymn 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I imagine it was improvisation for a proper rice pounder - dig a hole until you reach harder sediment below the soil, than use the base of a log or whatnot as a big pestle to pound the rice grains until the hull cracks and breaks away.

[–]Karvier[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

But since this "dig a hole and hull the rice" method was mentioned twice in my translation alone, I would say it is safe to assume this was a common practice back then.

[–]Karvier[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

To be honest I have no idea how that works, I am really lacking agriculture-related knowledge.

[–]quantdave 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Me too: I've studied China's agricultural economy but never heard of this practice - presumably Han in origin as rice wasn't big in Manchuria.

[–]Trucktub 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is incredible. Thank you for your hard work and sharing

[–]Pasghettipourn 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Really interesting to read! Thanks for doing the translation work and sharing it with us

[–]grixit 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Is manchu a turkic language? There's been a recent move to create an alphabet comprehensive enough to be used by the whole family, which in turn is expected to help keep the all the member languages relevant in the modern world.

[–]Karvier[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I suppose I am not the best person to question because I do not actually know much about Turkic languages. You might as well try to read the Manchu text in my post if you're a Turk to see if you can spot any similarities.

[–]maestergaben 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is so amazing. Please post more and update us

[–]Blueberry_Mancakes 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Imagine seeing an army with banner men, muskets, and elephants! I find it interesting the way the author and his mates were punished for killing local villagers and taking their meat. I think the tent for the horse may have meant the cloth that draped over the horse. I wonder if It was part of the horse's cosmetic uniform or if it were like a blanket that was draped over it on cold nights.

[–]Karvier[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That’s a very good guess about the “horse tent” thing, I have never thought of it that way!

[–]losbullitt 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What a nice read! Thank you!!!

[–]PIPBOY-2000 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I love military history more than any other type. This was a pleasure to read. Thank you so much for the hard work in translating this.

I'll bet someone like Dan Carlin would appreciate this as well.

Thanks again and great job!

[–]duzins 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much for translating! That was riveting.

[–]balmergrl 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Top tier content you win Best Person on the internet today!

Thank you for your generosity to share this us & for the context too

Do you know any good podcasts that cover the Manchus period? I'd like to learn more, addicted to history podcasts

[–]ramblinrhee 1 point2 points  (0 children)

How was the diary preserved? This is so cool!

[–]Ok_Fondant_6340 1 point2 points  (5 children)

I sewed a tent and saddle for my horse (not sure what exactly that means,do horses need tents?)

well, no. i guess not. but horses don't need saddles either. this means he's a decent enough human that he takes care of his horse enough; to sew his horse a tent. he's just being kind.

it could also be that he sewed the tent for himself and the saddle for his horse, but didn't bother to write that the tent was for himself. this was a diary after all. so, it could've been obvious to him that he was talking about himself. but again: he might've been kind enough to his horse to sew for him both a tent and a saddle.

My heart feels so heavy.

this pretty much confirms it. the tent was for his horse. if his heart was weighed down this much by their all too soon 'departure', he made the tent for his horse. not out of necessity. per çe. but because he cared for his friend.

some random natives.

uuuuuuuuuuuh, random native cattle. right? i hope they didn't kill some random native Chinese people and bring them back to the platoon as "beef". dear god.

In the end, we were all punished, Ganduhai was sentenced to a fine of three months' salary, I and the vice janggin Dandai were sentenced to a fine of six months' salary. Bosoku (a Manchu military title, refers to a low-ranking cavalry officer) was sentenced to 70 strokes of the cane. Hooxan from the Booju niru,who was the master of the servant, was sentenced to 80 strokes of the cane. The servant was sentenced to 100 strokes of the cane.

all this punishment for eating some meat, someone else procured. damn.

( probably referring to the Hooxan incident)harmed the local people,

😱😱😱they did eat local Chinese people! oh my god!! this recontextualizes everything!!

a decree that barred all soldiers from leaving their post was issued.

yup. completely understandable.


WOW. what an interesting diary entry! i wonder if the whole thing will one day be turned into a book... 🤔

also, Prince Giyešu Aisin-gioro and Labu Aisin-gioro changed there names into something so different that i have to wonder: do Elhe and Kemungge translate to something? like maybe one translates to 'Peacock' because Giyešu was born in the year of the Peacock? and took a liking to the bird? so he adopted the word as his name. and maybe Kemungge translates to Oxen for similar reasons?

those were just examples. it could translate to anything. having any meaning behind it. or maybe they don't have translations. and the two princes chose those names simply 'cause the names sounded cool. i'm kinda curious to know.

[–]Karvier[S] 2 points3 points  (4 children)

For the Hooxan incident, my guess is that they killed the natives before slaughtering their cattle but who knows, the author did not really state it very clearly either,but he did mentioned something about the meat came from ox though which was lost in translation. Elhe means prosperity and kemungge means simplicity in Manchus language, they are sort of honorific names

[–]Ok_Fondant_6340 1 point2 points  (2 children)

For the Hooxan incident, my guess is that they killed the natives before slaughtering their cattle but who knows, the author did not really state it very clearly either,but he did mentioned something about ox though which was lost in translation.

got it. although, that other part recontextualizes it. so, hmm. who knows.

Elhe means prosperity and kemungge means simplicity in Manchus language,

cool! awesome!! hell yeah!! i knew i was on to something!

they were sort of honorific names

right. gotcha. that's neat!

[–]inumbrellawetrust 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm just a layperson. So take this at that value. One avenue for investigating the incident is to travel to the area (Hooxan is a village I assume?) and try to link up this part of the diary with local folklore, any records, etc. I recall reading an anthropologist's methodology guide to field work and she mentioned something similar, how the local folklore of a village she was staying in turned out to describe an event mentioned in a diary of a European explorer.

[–]__NOT__MY__ACCOUNT__ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Amazing. Thank you

[–]deliciouschickenwing 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fascinating stuff thank you for your effort

[–]mokxmatic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

They were cannibals?

[–]dondarreb 1 point2 points  (0 children)

just fantastic. Thank you sir.

[–]Trabawn 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing! Fascinating.

[–]Iamthedogpillow 1 point2 points  (0 children)

An amazing piece of history. Thank you for sharing it, especially with the added context!

[–]Maaaafsk 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks so much for sharing! Incredibly fascinating! Is there any more? I was left hanging at the end there :p

[–]tenkohime 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing this. I never heard of any of this! The part with the elephants was especially exciting and unexpected.

[–]OfficerJohnMaldonday 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Is there a subreddit for old/historic diary translations anywhere?

Absolutely fascinating read great work.

[–]AirmedTuathaDeDanaan 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's like travelling back in time it's incredible!

[–]BobSacamano47 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Can you tell if he was shooting arrows or a musket at the end?

[–]prozergter 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I’d wager arrows since the elephants “looked like hedgehogs.”

[–]BobSacamano47 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ohhh that went right past me!

[–]stormtrail 1 point2 points  (0 children)

As someone who’s dad had “rumored” Manchus way up the family tree this is fascinating and an amazing effort. Thank you!

[–]TrumpsGhostWriter 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Excellent work. This makes me miss the same from a Mongol of Genghis Khan's army.

[–]tarok26 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank You for doing this! Incredible :)

[–]deam83 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is so facinating! Thank you for this gift!

[–]BozChief 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for posting and for the effort. It must have taken some time to complete. Very interesting to read another person's personal words from such a long time ago and get a sense of the events around him.

[–]Bevos2222 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Very interesting. But the whole time I’m thinking where’s Lu Bu?

[–]Rex_Lee 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This was awesome. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into this Soldiers life 400 years ago!

[–]LordDavonne 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’d like to hear the decree from the king. On march 3rd, you skipped over it but it’d be interesting to know a synopsis

[–]therra1234 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for taking the time to do this, incredibly valuable

[–]bringbackswg 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What’s the story of you finding the journal?

[–]Hoyarugby 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Interesting that the author and his servant were punished for killing peasants and their cattle, and then just a few days later he is ordered to basically steal rice from the peasantry

[–]Givemeurhats 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this, you have found a treasure. Also thanks for the sidenotes. Would love the whole translation.

[–]Pkytails 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is beautiful thank you for this amazing work!

[–]Panopticon01 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Incredible. Reading the day today of lower ranking soldiers and everyday people is fascinating. Thank you.

[–]keladry12 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Why did you decide to translate this? Are you studying something specific, are you getting paid to do this, etc? Or are you just looking to read about things you find interesting, with some challenge thrown in?

(Not meant as a knock or something, people should do things with what they are fascinated in. Or if it's contract work I need a job, ha! :P)

[–]dieItalienischer 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Amazing, what a fantastic resource as the Manchu language and culture is being slowly eroded under CCP Han supremacy

[–]Ryllynaow 1 point2 points  (0 children)

His account of surviving the battle is wild.

"My heart felt really strange at that instance."

My guy, you just survived an elephant charge, I think that's adrenaline.

[–]BluntsNLegos 1 point2 points  (0 children)

only read a littlle but thank you OP. this is some great stuff i wouldnt have been able to read anywhere else.

Appreciate your hard work

[–]Specialist_Ad_9613 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This was amazing! Thank you for sharing I love reading the words from an actual soldier.

[–]CycloneSP 1 point2 points  (0 children)

ngl, halfway thru reading this title, I thought this was gonna be a post from r/nosleep XD

gj on all the hard work of translating this, tho

[–]spectrumhead 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is incredible work! Thank you!

[–]itimedout 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks a lot for the translations, you did an amazing job of helping me read something I otherwise couldn’t have and wow! what a read it was! Very cool

[–]Krilesh 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think sewing tent for horse might make me think he affixed his gear to his horse for carrying. I wonder what that process looked like back then if thats what it was

[–]GrimReefer-101- 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I am probably the 200th person to say so, but this was absolutely captivating, and has left me with a thirst to read more!

[–]Crash662244 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for translating that text. Very fascinating. Loved it

[–]maybeCheri 1 point2 points  (0 children)

An amazing read. I can’t imagine all the hardships these soldiers faced and still they stayed and fought. History like this is important in understanding the civilizations were have today.

[–]abc123cnb 1 point2 points  (4 children)

This is very interesting. Thank you so much for translating.

Two questions:

  1. What happened to our main guy afterwards? Did he die in the campaign or was he able to journey back home?

  2. Did he ever mention what happened to Hooxan and his servant in later entries? Since to me 80 and 100 canes don’t sound like something one could survive. Especially in that kind of environment.

[–]Karvier[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Hooxan died later, but his death was probably not a result of the punishment, in fact, many friends and companions of the author, including General Manggitu, died almost immediately after the "elephant battle", their camp was ravaged by a severe epidemic. The author was so devastated that he wrote, "I have to cry under my blanket; what am I going to do with all of this, everyone is dying". He did survived the war though, and he went back to home after he finished his 3-year military service, that was where the diary ended. It's possible that he kept writing in his journal after then, but those entries were lost.

[–]abc123cnb 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I see. Thank you so much for the answer!

[–]neutronium 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fascinating, especially the battle report at the end. Thank you for work and for posting it here for us.

[–]ShotFish 1 point2 points  (0 children)

How did you learn Manchu?

[–]TNT_GR 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for doing this, it’s awesome! Just a couple of questions, are you a Manchu native speaker?Did the language change from then to its modern format?

[–]Time-Asparagus-6570 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm not gonna read the entire post but this is AMAZING that you were able to translate so much and explain everything in detail. AMAZING