Nara clan of the Mongols and Jurchens

Nara is the Mongolian word for ‘sun’. In Mongolia, the sun is associated to Genghis Khan as the nara tamga is the main tamga attributed to him.

However, the majority of the Nara clans are Manchu today, descendents of the Jurchen. The Jurchens were a Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria (present-day Northeast China) until the 17th century, when they adopted the name Manchu.

The Naras were a people who lived in the Haixi area, which encompasses parts of modern day Jilin, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia. The Hata/Hada Naras and Ula Naras are native to today’s Manchuria and shared an ancestor. The Yehe Naras were founded by a Tümed Mongol who conquered the local Nara tribe and assumed their name, establishing his rule over the banks of the Yehe river. The Hoifa Naras, on the other hand, came from the Ikderi clan.

Nara (Manchu: Wade-Giles: Nara hala, Chinese: 納喇氏, 納蘭氏 or 那拉氏, also Nala, Nalan) is a clan name shared by a number of royal Manchu clans. The four tribes of the Hūlun confederation (扈倫四部) — Hada (Chinese: 哈達, pinyin: Hādá), Ula (Chinese: 烏拉, pinyin: Wūlā), Hoifa (Chinese: 輝發, pinyin: Huīfā) and Yehe (Chinese: 葉赫, pinyin: Yèhè) — were all ruled by clans bearing this name.

The head of each clan held the princely title of “beile” (貝勒, Manchu: “chief, lord”).

Present-day descendants of the Nara clan generally adopt “Na” (那) and “Zhao” (趙) as a family name, so that it would be similar to the usually monosyllabic Han family names. Others, less commonly, took “Na” (納), “Nan” (南), “Liu” (劉), “Su” (蘇). Those descended from the Yehe Nara tribe might also choose “Ye” (葉) or “He” (赫 or 何).

The naming of the Japanese city of Nara may possibly indicate an affinity of its earliest founding lineages with migrants from Central Asia or Northeast Asia.

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