Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(849 words)

In accordance with Confucian beliefs, traditional China's social order was supposed to be based on adherence to a three-fold precept: permanent strive for moral self-improvement of the political leadership; correctly executed rituals; and the application of "correct designations" (zheng ming). Therefore, the military as a regulating factor was left with a subordinate role. Soldiers did not enjoy high public esteem, as proven by the well-known proverb "from good iron one does not make nails, and good men do not become soldiers" (hao tie bu da ding, hao nan bu dang bing). Social and ph…

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Weggel, Oskar, “Soldiers”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 21 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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