|A qilin of the Qing dynasty in Beijing's Summer Palace|
|Vietnamese alphabet||kỳ lân|
The Qilin (Chi-lin; Chinese: 麒麟; pinyin: Qílín; Wade–Giles: Ch'i2-lin2) is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler. It is a good omen that brings rui (Chinese: 瑞; pinyin: Ruì; Wade–Giles: Jui4; roughly translated as "serenity" or "prosperity"). It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. It is sometimes called the "Chinese unicorn" when compared with the Western unicorn.
In legend, the Qilin became tiger-like after their disappearance in real life and become a stylised representation of the giraffe in Ming Dynasty. The identification of the Qilin with giraffes began after Zheng He's voyage to East Africa (landing, among other places, in modern-day Somalia). The Ming Dynasty bought Giraffes from the Somali merchants along with Zebras, incense and other various exotic animals. Zheng He's fleet brought back two giraffes to Nanjing, and they were referred to as "Qilins". The Emperor proclaimed the giraffes magical creatures, whose capture signalled the greatness of his power.
The identification between the Qilin and the giraffe is supported by some attributes of the Qilin, including its vegetarian and quiet nature. Its reputed ability to "walk on grass without disturbing it" may be related to the giraffe's long, thin legs. Also the Qilin is described as having antlers like a deer and scales like a dragon or fish; since the giraffe has horn-like "ossicones" on its head and a tessellated coat pattern that looks like scales it is easy to draw an analogy between the two creatures. The identification of Qilin with giraffes has had lasting influence; even today, the giraffe is called kirin (기린) by the Koreans and kirin (キリン) by the Japanese.
There are many different ways Qilin have been described. Some think of them as a rare form of unicorn; others have described it as a creature that has the head of a dragon and a body of tiger with scales. Others see it as a creature with a single horn on its forehead, a multicolored back, the hooves of a horse, the body of a deer, and with the tail of an ox.
Although it looks fearsome, the Qilin only punishes the wicked. It can walk on grass yet not trample the blades, and it can also walk on water. As it is a peaceful creature, its diet does not include flesh. It takes great care when it walks never to harm or tread on any living thing, and it is said to appear only in areas ruled by a wise and benevolent leader (some say even if this area is only a house). It is normally gentle but can become fierce if a pure person is threatened by a sinner, spouting flames from its mouth and exercising other fearsome powers that vary from story to story.
Legends tell that the Qilin has appeared in the garden of the legendary Huangdi and in the capital of Emperor Yao. Both events bore testimony to the benevolent nature of the rulers. It's been told in legends that the birth of the great sage Confucius was foretold by the arrival of a Qilin.
Some stories state that the Qilin is a sacred pet (or familiar) of the deities. Therefore, in the hierarchy of dances performed by the Chinese (Lion Dance, Dragon Dance, etc.), the Qilin ranks highly; third only to the Dragon and Phoenix who are the highest.
In the Qilin Dance, movements are characterized by fast, powerful strokes of the head. The Qilin Dance is often regarded as a hard dance to perform due to the weight of the head, stances and the emphasis on "fǎ jìn" (Chinese: 法勁) — outbursts of strength/power/energy.
Qilin are thought to be a symbol of good omens, protection, prosperity, success, and longevity by the Chinese.
During the Jin Dynasty, the Qilin is depicted as wreathed in flame and smoke, with a dragon-like head, scales, and the body of a powerful hooved beast such as a horse.
The Qilin of China's subsequent Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) is a fanciful animal. Depictions of the Qilin show a creature with the head of a dragon, the antlers of a deer, the skin and scales of a fish, the hooves of an ox and tail of a lion.
Kirin is the Korean pronunciation of the Qilin. It is described as a maned creature with the torso of a deer, an ox tail with the hooves of a horse. The Qilin in Korean art were initially depicted as more deer-like, however over time they have transformed into more horse-like. They were one of the four divine creatures (사영수,四靈獸) along with the dragon, phoenix and turtle. Kirin were extensively used in Korean royal and buddhist arts.
In Japan, the Qilin is called Kirin (i.e. 麒麟 in Kanji) in Japanese, which has also come to be used in the modern Japanese word for a giraffe. The Japanese art tends to depict the Qilin as more deer-like than in Chinese art. Alternatively, it is depicted as a dragon shaped like a deer, but with an ox's tail instead of a lion's tail. The Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd. is named after the animal, and uses a picture of one in its labels. They are also often portrayed as partially unicorn-like in appearance, but with a backwards curving horn.
In the Post-Qin Chinese hierarchy of mythological animals, the Qilin is ranked as the third most powerful creature (after the dragon and phoenix), but in Japan, the Kirin occupies the top spot. This is following the style of the ancient Chinese, as Qilin was ranked higher than the Dragon or Phoenix before the Qin Dynasty. During the Zhou dynasty, the Qilin was ranked the highest, the Phoenix ranked second and the Dragon the third.
Cultural representations 
The Qilin has been frequently depicted in works of literature and art.
- In Jorge Luis Borges's Book of Imaginary Beings, there is a section on "The Unicorn of China", of which he writes:
"It is universally held that the unicorn is a supernatural being and of auspicious omen; so say the odes, the annals, the biographies of worthies, and other texts whose authority is unimpeachable. Even village women and children know that the unicorn is a lucky sign. But this animal does not figure among the barnyard animals, it is not always easy to come across, it does not lend itself to zoological classification. Nor is it like the horse or bull, the wolf or deer. In such circumstances we may be face to face with a unicorn and not know for sure that we are. We know that a certain animal with a mane is a horse and that a certain animal with horns is a bull. We do not know what the unicorn looks like."
Film and television 
- In Takashi Miike's The Great Yokai War, the hero is bitten during a street festival by the dancer's kirin head. According to local custom that makes him the next "kirin rider", a hero who defeats malevolent yokai, and he is seen riding the kirin through the sky at the climax of the film.
- In Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Kazu of the Heavenly Time Star uses his Chi to manifest the power of the Kirin to become the Kirinranger and pilots the Mythical Chi Beast, Sei-Kirin. When the Sei-Kirin was adapted to Season Two of the Dairanger's 1994 counterpart Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Kirin was renamed as the Griffin Thunderzord.
- The Kirin is one of the mythical beasts that passes through Count D's mythical petshop in Pet Shop of Horrors. It is said to have changed the fate of the world several times by choosing a worthy leader for a country. The Kirin's inability to walk on living beings is compared to the ancient, crippling Chinese practice of footbinding.
- In the Korean drama "Dong Yi", Dong Yi, the main character, was asked by a Chinese nobleman to paint a Qilin.
- In the Korean drama "Yi San", Seong Song-yeon, the main female character, draws a Qilin for the Chinese Ambassador to impress him, get his respect, and to keep him from sleeping with her.
Comics, anime, and manga 
- In The Twelve Kingdoms anime series, based on the fantasy novels by Fuyumi Ono, the monarch of each kingdom is chosen by a Kirin, who then becomes his (or her) principal counselor. The Kirin's name is derived from the name of the kingdom plus either "ki" (male) or "rin" (female).
- The Kirin in the manga Genju no Seiza is the only deity who can tell which baby the constantly reincarnating Holy King has taken host of. He is blind and deaf, but able to sense thoughts, and thus unpopular in the palace despite the respect given to him.
- In the manga Naruto, Kirin is a ninjutsu which forms lightning into the shape of the Qilin, then uses it to strike the opponent. The technique was created by Sasuke Uchiha for the purpose of killing his brother Itachi. It is said to be impossible to avoid.
- In the manga Blazer Drive, the name of the Antagonist group is Qilin Realm. The name of the electric qilin mysticker is also yellow qilin.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons universe, the Ki-rin are monsters in the Oriental Adventures setting, cited as an example of how D&D uses influences from many places.
- In the video game series Final Fantasy, Kirin is one of the Espers, or summoned monsters, in Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Kirin also makes an appearance as the strongest of the "gods" in Final Fantasy XI.
- It appears in the game SaGa Frontier as a playable character named Kylin, the only master of "Space Magic".
- In the computer game Guild Wars Factions, players encounter both helpful Kirin charged with safeguarding certain areas, as well as several tainted Kirin as enemies.
- In the Magic: The Gathering set "Saviors of Kamigawa", there are five Kirin, one for each color of Magic: Infernal Kirin, Skyfire Kirin, Cloudhoof Kirin, Celestial Kirin, and Bounteous Kirin.
- In Blue Dragon Plus, King Jibral the XVI has a Quilin shadow
- In Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, the Elder Dragon Kirin is based on Qilin.
- In the MMORPG Ultima Online, a Kirin is a magical creature that can be tamed and ridden as a mount by male characters, as a counterpart to the unicorn for female characters.
- In World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Quilen are a type of dog and lion like creature which appear in the environment.
- In the second generation of the Pokémon games (Gold, Silver; and Crystal version), the legendary Pokémon Suicune is based on the Quilin in both appearance and its ability to run across water.
- In Rage of Bahamut, there is a card called Qilin, basing off the Qilin itself in the game.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Qilin|
- "qilin (Chinese mythology)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- Chinese Literature - Chunqiu-Zuozhuan 春秋左傳, Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳, Guliangzhuan 穀梁傳 (www.chinaknowledge.de)
- 古建上的主要装饰纹样――麒麟 古建园林技术－作者:徐华铛
- Wilson, Samuel M. "The Emperor's Giraffe", Natural History Vol. 101, No. 12, December 1992 
- 傳世麒麟圖考察初稿 張之傑
- 기린 : 네이버캐스트
- Griffis, William Elliot (October 2007). The Religions of Japan. Bibliobazaar. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-4264-9918-0.
- "The Kirin: a mythological beast that portends happiness". Kirin Brewing company. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- Twelve Kingdoms Kirin
- Rubin, Jonathan (March 6, 2008). "Farewell to the Dungeon Master: How D&D creator Gary Gygax changed geekdom forever."" Slate.com. Accessed February 2012.
- AD&D Monster Manual
- FFVI Espers Kirin
- Saga Frontier Kylin
- Qilinmon (dubious)
- Golden Sun Kirin
- DeWeese, John (June 27, 2006). Guild Wars Factions (Review). Gamechronicles.com. Accessed February 2012.
- "Infernal Kirin." Magiccards.info. Accessed February 2012.
- "Ki-Rin"UOGuide.com. Accessed April 13, 2012
- "World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria arrives September 25" Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed July 27, 2012.