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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Qilin

The Qilin is a mythical creature known throughout some Eastern Asian cultures. They are thought to be a good omen and bring prosperity. They are said to appear when a with the arrival or passing of a sage or ruler. They are also sometimes called a Chinese Unicorn.

The fifth century BC is when the Qilin was first mentioned. One was supposedly captured in 122 BC, but with skepticism. The legend of the Qilin states that the creature became tiger-like and were identified along with giraffes during the Ming Dynasty. Two giraffes were brought to Nanjing during this era and were referred to as Qilin.

The description of the Qilin is believed to have antlers, in some cultures a single horn, and covered in scales. Many variations have been told. Some say it is a rare form of unicorn, others state it has the head of a dragon and a scaly, tigers body. Other descriptions say it has a multicolored back, hooves like a horse, body of a deer, and an ox’s tail.

The behavior of this creature is depicted in the legend as only punishing the wicked. It can walk on grass without crushing the blades and can also walk on water.

The Qilin are peaceful, but can become fierce when a person is threatened by a sinner. It will shoot flames from its mouth and use other powers that vary with each legend.

The variations of the Qilin:

Jin Dynasty Qilin was covered in flames and smoke, had a dragon’s head, scales and hooves of  a horse.

Ming Dynasty Qilin was described as having dragon’s head, a pair of horns, and oxen hooves.

Qing Dynasty Qilin had a dragon’s head, deer antlers, fish-like scales, oxen hooves, and a lion’s tail.

In Korea the Qilin had a deer’s body, an ox’s tail, and hooves of a horse.

In Japan it described as a dragon shaped like a deer with an ox’s tail.

The Chinese Qilin is considered the third most powerful creature behind the dragon and phoenix. In Japan it is the most powerful.

The Qilin is popular in art and literature. Its likeness is used in the Chinese hierarchy of dances, and many video games feature a form of a Qilin. Some of the games in the Final Fantasy series use a Kirin, which is a form of a Qilin. Dungeons and Dragons also use a Kirin.

Image Caption: QingQilin. Credit: Leonard G./Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 1.0)

Qilin