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Not Just a Design: Kirin

By:
Last Updated: 2019-4-1

The legendary kirin, or popularly referred to in Chinese as "qilin", is a mythical chimera established in East Asian culture. Chimeras are best described as an extreme hybridization of several species. These fish-scaled beasts are depicted in a plethora of ways; typically with a dragon-like head and a body with the combined qualities of a giraffe, horse, ox, and deer. Usually hooved, they are seldom portrayed with claws. Sometimes they will have the antlers of a deer, and other times they are shown with ossicones (the horns of a giraffe). The body of a kirin is surrounded by holy flames. Although their appearance may be frightening to some, in mythological lore the kirin is viewed as an ally of humanity.

According to legend, the appearance of a kirin foretold the birth of a great ruler or profound human being, hence its symbolic association with fertility. This was popularly demonstrated by the birth of the legendary Confucius.

Bronze Marching Kirin

Kirin statues are sometimes incorporated in
the home in order to ward off evil

Stone Kirin Drum Entry Statue Set

Kirin sculptures and artistic representations
are often featured in pairs

Kirin are so benevolent that they refuse to walk on grass out of fear of harming any natural life. For this reason, they are usually portrayed travelling on clouds. At the same time, distinguished as judges of morality, punishing the evil and wicked for their corrupt deeds. The kirin possesses menacing abilities such as incinerating people that they deem foul or wicked. Their pure intentions are recognized and auspicious presence is valued. Similar to foo dogs, many incorporate duo statues or figures of kirin into their home in order to bestow protection among the household. For others, they are simply beautiful creatures fabricated of our imagination, and they are admired through a fascinating variety of depictions.


See More Kirin Decorative Accents

Vintage Wood Kirin Sculpture

Vintage Wood Kirin Sculpture

Bronze Kirin Set

Bronze Kirin Set

Bronze Imperial Kirin Incense Burner

Bronze Imperial Kirin Incense Burner


Date Published:

Publisher: China Furniture and Arts Enterprises Inc.