Chapter on Manchu Insect Names



"Manchu Insect Names: Grasshoppers, Locusts, and a Few Other Bugs in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," in Insect Histories of East Asia, edited by David A. Bello and Daniel Burton-Rose (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2023), 41–63.

This chapter looks at the Manchu names for bugs, especially grasshoppers and locusts. They were part of Manchu everyday experience, and the Manchus accordingly had words for them. Yet in the Qing empire empire that the Manchus established and centered on the capital of Beijing, the linguistic and conceptual world of rulers, administrators, and scholars was not limited to the Manchu words and notions that were carried along from "outside the pass" in Manchuria. Within the conceptual world of Qing China, locusts and grasshoppers existed within a broader category of "bugs. The chapter singles out grasshoppers and locusts as noteworthy within that category because they occurred frequently in both literary and bureaucratic texts. Yet in order to situate locusts within the larger problematic of aligning Chinese and Manchu words for the natural world, the chapter also makes reference to other bugs, or umiyaha in Manchu. This word generally corresponded to Chinese chong 蟲.