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A bird catches a small ball thrown into the air by a retiree. The 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium is in the background.


This man is from the Manchu ethnic group, whose heartlands are in the Northeast, where this pastime also originated. His relatives were once part of the extended family of the Qing Dynasty, enjoying the privileges of royalty.


"I remember my father telling me he used to get free rice from Emperor Pu Yi every year, enough to feed numerous families. Then the Republicans came."


Manchus from families favoured by the Emperor were forbidden from working, and spent a great deal of time idle. They often kept birds - leading to the nickname 'birdmen' (niaoren), which is still used today as a pejorative phrase indicating someone who is useless [this is certainly open to dispute as the word 'niao' can also mean 'penis']


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Taken on October 29, 2009