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Nurhaci or Nurgaci (1559-1626; r. 1616-1626) was the virtual founder of the Qing Dynasty. He also is considered the father of the Manchu people, though he was technically Jurchen since the Manchu were declared by a Qing imperial edict issued by his son in 1635, after Nurhaci's death. He is credited with ordering the creation of a written script for the Manchu language.

A figure of legend among the Manchu, many myths have come into being about his early life; one involves him avenging the death of his father Taksi and grandfather Giocangga at the hands of the Ming general Li Chengliang. In the West, one pop culture reference to him is found in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, in which a small blue vial contains the "essence of Nurgaci."

Nurhaci was the organizer of the Eight Banners, which would eventually form the elite that would dominate the Qing empire. In his later life, Nurhaci declared himself a khan. He constructed a palace at Mukden (modern-day Shenyang in Liaoning province).

In 1616 he founded the Later Jin Dynasty (amaga aisin gurun in the Manchu language) or just Jin Dynasty (aisin gurun). Jin was renamed Qing by his son Hong Taiji after his death but Nurhaci is usually referred to as the founder of Qing Dynasty.

Nurhaci led many successful engagements against the Ming empire, the Koreans, the Mongols, and other Jurchen clans, greatly enlarging the territory under his control. In the first serious military defeat of his life, Nurhaci was beaten by the Ming general Yuan Chonghuan at Ningyuan. Nurhaci was wounded in the battle; he did not recover, and he died on September 30 1626.

Preceded by:
Qing Dynasty Succeeded by:
Tiancong/Chongde Emperor of the Manchus