Friday, June 4, 2010


The Qilin is a hooved mytholoical beastie found in East Asian countries that is a hodgepodge of assorted creatures usually called a chimera. The Qilin pictured above was popular in the Qing dynasty of China (1644-1911). As you can see, it had a head like a dragon, antlers of a deer, colorful scales like a fish, sturdy hoofs of a ox and lastly, a tail just like a lion's if a lion had fish scales running down it. The orange on its legs is fire. You would think you were hot stuff if you saw one, since spotting a Qilin was considered a good omen bringing rui, otherwise known as serenity or prosperity. Once you got over its wild and terrifying aspect, you would learn it's a serene and gentle soul that only becomes dangerous if a good person is attacked. If this happens, fire will shoot from its mouth. 


This looks like a Qilin shooting fire from its mouth.

The qilin has may other talents besides shooting fire. Though these talents can vary from one story to another, it does have an amazing ability to walk on grass without squashing the blades. It can also walk on water. Its gentleness is a talent in itself, and proves this by not stepping on living things and never eating meat. 


Strangely, the Qilin was often associated with the giraffe. Maybe because the giraffe steps carefully with its long legs, is a vegetarian, has horn-like appendages on its head, and has a patterned coat looking much like fish scales. In Japan, the giraffe is called a Kirin, the name for the Qilin in that nation. 


This is a photo of the Qilin Dance. The Qilin Dance is considered very hard to do due to the weight of the costume's head. The person controlling the head swings it around in a very energetic fashion so the Qilin will appear powerful.



  1. Another new beastie for me. Interesting that the Qilin does not bend a blade a grass and also manages not to start forest fires. And also if you had flaming legs walking on water would be an important skill otherwise you would be "flame out".

  2. Thank you for the great post here! I am using it for a class I am teaching for 6-8 year olds on Mythologies around the world!

    Check it out on my blog:

    It will be under the heading Qilin. Thanks!! :)

  3. Hi there,
    May I ask where you found the red circular design of the Qilin shooting fire from it's mouth? It looks like a woodcut/print.


  4. I love the top qirin picture, a very fine image.

  5. is that one of the spiritual animal of china