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In Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4 The Spoils of War we see Daenerys and Jon looking at cave paintings believed to depict the Children of the Forest, the First Men and the White Walkers.

In the image of the White Walkers we're shown what is meant to be the Night King but he looks different. In the cave picture he seems to have a beard as opposed to the 'clean shaven' look we know him to have.

Is there any purpose behind this or has 8000 years brought on a change of image?

left:cave image  right:Night King

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    Because the CGI wasn't as good 8000 years ago, lower quality image to paint off. – Edlothiad Jun 1 at 9:21
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    Clearly, the one in the cave painting was from the mirror universe. – geewhiz Jun 1 at 11:37
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    Is there any reason to think that White Walkers don't grow facial hair just like regular people? They definitely age - some are turned as infants, and obviously don't stay infants. – LevenTrek Jun 1 at 12:05
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    Why can't The Night King shave? – Baby Yoda Jun 1 at 15:31
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    No, the show makes it clear the Night King is the original Night King and there is only one, and he wanted to extinguish all living creatures and that's it. No additional Night Kings, no other driving force for the White Walkers. What GRRM is saying is that his Night's King and the TV show's Night King (note the different spellings) are not the same character. This is one point where the books and the TV show diverge. – Andres F. Jun 3 at 0:47
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This won't be a conclusive answer, but...

...I don't see a huge contradiction that can't be explained away. Cave paintings in real life are not exactly equal to the subjects they portray:

Neanderthal cave painting

Even within the context of this TV show, the paintings done by the Children of the Forest are not particularly realistic (I think Neanderthals actually had better artistic skills!):

Children of the Forest cave painting

As for the picture of the Night King, if you squint your eyes it kinda looks like him; all major features are there. If you squint your eyes even harder, the "beard" could be conflated with the thingy around his neck. With some artistic license, sure, but it doesn't seem like an outrageous mistake to me.

As an aside, note that the "humans" in the Children of the Forest drawing don't look like real humans either, but this can't be called a "mistake" or continuity error; it's just that the Children weren't going for a realistic arts style, just for a non-realistic but figurative one. Or maybe they just weren't very good artists ;)

  • Thanks but I'm not going to accept this answer because there is a big difference between stylised (top image) and creation of a feature (beard). Also the top image looks like someone riding a camel using a harness and looks more modern and African than Neanderthal? – Seamusthedog Jun 3 at 7:23
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    @Seamusthedog I may be wrong but I think those comes from (Tassili n'Ajjer)[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tassili_n%27Ajjer], more than 12.000 years old prehistoric cave art. It's african(In today's Algeria), and it's not Neanderthal (but rather Homo Sapiens), but it's still prehistoric – Kepotx Jun 3 at 7:32
  • @Seamusthedog What difference does it make whether it's Neanderthal? It's older than the drawing of the Children of the Forest (in their fictional timeline). It's more abstract, too. – Andres F. Jun 3 at 14:52
  • @Kepotx Thanks! I got confused because this article used it as a stock image to discuss Neanderthal paintings. In any case, the point of my answer still stands :) – Andres F. Jun 3 at 15:02
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    @Seamusthedog Hmm, whether Neanderthal or not, the painting seems to be prehistoric. But any cave painting would have served: they are never accurate. The men and animals don't look like real animals, they are like abstracted representations of them :) For this reason, it's not totally unreasonable to believe the child-like Children could have drawn the neck ornament as a beard. Or maybe they represent "age" with a beard, even though the actual NK didn't sport one. All I'm saying is that it doesn't seem like a major continuity error to me, because it can easily be explained away :) – Andres F. Jun 3 at 19:21

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