Terracotta Army Facts

Stallions or mares are the war horses in the Terracotta Army?

People basically have no doubt that all the Terracotta Warriors are males, showed obviously by their hairstyles. But many are confused and curious about the sex of those terracotta horses. In order to tell whether these war horses are stallions or mares, we can take a look at their sex organs as well as teeth.
Terracotta Warriors and Horses
Terracotta Warriors and Horses

They are Stallions, told by the Number of Canine Teeth.

In most cases, a stallion has 40 teeth and a mare has 36 teeth. Specifically, a horse has three types of teeth, which are incisive teeth, molar teeth and canine teeth. Horse’s upper jaw and lower jaw each has six incisive teeth at their central parts. This type of teeth act to cut the forage. It’s worth mentioning that the incisive teeth on the upper jaw protrude more than those on the lower jaw do. Thus, in order to let these two parts closely mesh, the horse has to lower its head and then eat forage. The horse’s upper jaw and lower jaw also each has twelve molar teeth. Molar teeth play an important role in chewing foods, so as to make the forage easy to digest. The total teeth number of stallion and mare differs in the third type, canine teeth. Usually, a stallion has canine teeth when it is four to five years old, with two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. In contrast, most mares don’t have canine teeth, or only have the trace of them. Through observing the teeth of terracotta horses, archaeologists found that they are stallions.
Terracotta Horses


There are also Castrated Horses.

Bear in mind the appearance of canine teeth is an important, but not absolute criterion to tell apart the stallions and mares. It will be more accurate to observe both the horse’s teeth number and sex organs. By this way, archeologists found castrated horses among the terracotta horses.
Why are the war horses castrated? One reason is that the stallions, in the presence of mares that are in estrus, difficult to control, ancient people would castrate some stallions to make them more docile, so as to meet military demands. Moreover, the modern science has proved that if a stallion is castrated when it is very young, it will grow taller and bigger. Ancient people probably had also noticed this phenomenon.

What are the Stallions and Castrated Horses used for?

By observing their saddleries, archeologists drew a conclusion that all the horses pulling the carts and chariots are castrated horse, and others ridden by soldiers are either castrated horses or stallions.

Why study the war horses in the Terracotta Army?

The horses in the Terracotta Army have the average height of 1.72m (5.6ft) and the length of 2m (2yd). And these data coincide with the unearthed skeletons of real horses during the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC), showing that these terracotta horses were modelled on the real horses at that time. So, by studying the terracotta horses, we can know more about the war horses 2,200 years ago.
Most scholars believe that the existence of wild horse in China can date back to Early Stone Age. During Shang Dynasty (17th century BC-1046BC), domestic horses began to appear around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River. However, there is no clear record about the horse castration at that time. Luckily, the lifelike horses in the Terracotta Army tell that people in China has acquired horse castration skill 2,200 years ago.
- Last updated on Mar. 08, 2024 by Brenda Lian -
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