Ki Lin – Fabulous Unicorns of Chinese Mythology
(Equus orientalis) (Updated 3 March 2012)
The Chinese Unicorn known as the Ki Lin (pronounced chee-lin), has for thousands of years been an integral part of Chinese mythology. It’s most common form and the one most familiar, is that of a horse-like creature, though probably a different branch of the horse family to the Unicorn, with a deer’s body, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse, and a single short horn growing prominently from the middle of its forehead. On occasion it is said to have a minimum of three horns! Multi-coloured (five) hair on its back represents the five sacred Chinese colours: red, yellow, blue, white, and black. Yellow hair can be found on its underside. In fact with its green scaly skin and manes of hair it bears a closer resemblance to a dragon than a unicorn. Neither is it the traditional Western unicorns shimmering white colour, but can be found in a range of colours including black, red and green.
The Ki Lin, (Ki, the male Unicorn, and Lin, the female Unicorn.) is a gentle creature that will not harm any living thing. It consumes only non-live plant life such as dead grass. Its exact habitat is unknown but it has a lifespan of around 1,000 years and stands about 1.5m tall. It is also in receipt of powers far greater than those of the “standard unicorn” and these work to ensure that it is impossible to both catch or kill, and it is claimed that it sprang from the centre of the Earth and has the power of speech.
As one of the “Four Fabulous Beasts of Chinese Mythology” the Ki Lin is representative of all mammals and furred creatures, as well as the West-pointing direction of the compass. They symbolise purity, innocence, truth and justice, and in Chinese mythology the Unicorn’s appearance was interpreted as a sign of good times, that came to humans only on important enterprises. It is said it will return again when good and prosperous times return to the lands…could be a long time coming then!
Many traditional Chinese stories indicate that the Ki Lin are great defenders of the innocent but have a particular dislike of the guilty and have a tendency to spear them creating major courtroom dramas! It is thought of as a holy creature. During the Court of Genghis Kharband expedition the Ki Lin passed on a message, speaking with a voice of melodious gong-like quality, of such love and peace to the “Great Leader” that he was moved to make the momentous decision to recall one of the worst and most bloodthirsty of his military campaigns avoiding much bloodshed.
(Updated 3 March 2012)