Offbeat Unicorn

For those who like unicorns with sharp hooves and mystery

I am NOT a Qilin/Kirin expert, so until I accumulate the knowledge, I’ll feature some pictures attesting to how old and how ubiquitous the quilin/kirin is.

Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1993) lists several anecdotes about the qilin, or “Chinese unicorn” heralding the birth of Confucius and offering warnings to Genghis Khan (95). He provides a neat bifurcation of East/West unicorn traditions, quoting Borges, that “In the East, peace and tranquility; in the West, aggression and lust. Nonetheless, the unicorn remains an imaginary animal, an invention that can embody any value one wishes to project” (97).


Unicorn Sculpture, Han Dynasty 1-3rd century.
Unicorn. Eastern Han Dynasty. 1st-3rd Century. Musée Guimet.
The Kirin Ichiban logo…This is where I first met the Kirin, on my grandfather’s beer label. I’m not into beer, but the Kirin was nice and shiny!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: