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Nurhaci (1559-1626) (努尔哈赤) was a cheiftain of the Nuzhen ethnic group of Jianzhou. At the time, the Nuzhen was formed of four scattered subgroups in northeast China: Jianzhou Nuzhen, Haixi Nuzhen, Donghai Nuzhen and Heilongjiang Nuzhen.

At the age of 25, he started his troops with 13 soldiers and at first made friends with the Ming Dynasty. After 30 years of efforts, Nurhaci united the Nüzhen group and declared himself the Khan and founded the Jin Dynasty (often called Later Jin).

In the second year after he took the throne, he decided to lead his troops to rebel against the Ming Dynasty. During the strategic, decisive war in Shaerhu, he wiped out 100,000 Ming troops, including its main forces, and obtained the initiative on the Liaosong battlefield. However, in 1626, Nurhaci was defeated by the Ming General Yuan Chonghuan at the Battle of Ningyuan and he died in anger on September 30, 1626.

The "Eight Banners" system established by Nurhaci was a social organization with military, administration and production functions. He also created the Manchu language through learning from the Chinese language.