'Teenage warriors' discovered in China's ancient terracotta army

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New Delhi, October 14 (ANI): Beardless warriors had been discovered among China's terracotta army, providing evidence of the youthful ages of some soldiers when the army was created more than 2,000 years ago.

"Some warriors have no beards, but for ancient Chinese, facial hair was part of the culture, so those warriors could be considered to represent soldiers under 17 years old," said Yuan Zhongyi, honorary curator of the Museum of the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang, in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

At the time of Qin Shihuang (259 BC-210 BC), first emperor of a united China from 221 BC, beards were signs of status, and adults without beards were considered to be social outcasts, according to Yuan.

"Cutting off the beard was a punishment for criminals," he said.

Each warrior had a unique face and expression and most had beards. Fewer than 10 of the more than 1,000 warriors discovered had no beard.

"Many warriors lost their vivid facial expressions over time, but a young warrior holding a spear in the first pit still looks extremely spirited," said Yuan.

Others with sparser beards and baby faces were also considered to be youthful soldiers by experts.

"A young standing warrior pulling a bow in the second pit might be one of the juvenile soldiers," Yuan said.

It was not usual for ancient Chinese rulers to recruit teenagers under the aged of 17, but historical documents showed that in the Changping Battle, in which Qin kingdom defeated the Zhao kingdom, all men over the age of 15 were recruited, according to historian Wang Zijin, of the Remin University of China in Beijing.

"Men aged 17 to 60 could be recruited under Qin law and the discovery of the juvenile warriors supported the historical records," Wang said.

"The discovery also reflected Qin power as it could motivate the entire population to defeat the other six kingdoms - the Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan and Qi - to unite the country," he said. (ANI)

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