One of the most revered mythical creatures in Chinese Mythology, it is ranker the third most powerful creature (behind the Dragon and Phoenix). This is also reflected in its standings in the hierarchy of dances (behind the Dragon and Phoenix Dance and above the Lion Dance). The Qi Lin is sometimes referred to as the Chinese Unicorn as it shares similar properties.
The Qi Lin is the guardian to the gateway to heaven and appearance on earth indicates the birth or death of a sage or great ruler; One of the most notable appearances being when a Qi Lin appeared before the pregnant mother of Confucius.
Though fearsome looking, the Qi Lin are peaceful creatures, with the ability to walk on water and on grass without disturbing it. They are known to only punish the wicked with the ability to breathe fire if it is threatened. It is therefore connected with truth and justice; appear in front of many courts in the Far East.
There are slight variations in the appearance of Qi Lin, but after the Qing Dynasty, they generally have the head of a Dragon, the antlers of a deer, the skin and scales of a fish, hooves of an ox,tail of a lion and come in several colours (black, green, red).
During the Ming Dynasty, the treasure ships of Zheng He brought back two Giraffes to the Royal court where they were referred to as Qi Lin. The appearance of the giraffe and its attributes has many similarities to the mythical QI Lin, with Japanese and Koreans still calling giraffes Qi Lin (or Kirin and Girin respectively). Though the traditional Qi Lin is not depicted with long legs or a long neck, its ability to walk on grass without disturbing it and it’s Vegetarian and peaceful nature mimics that of a giraffe. The Chinese Characters for QI Lin (麒麟) both have the radical for deer (鹿).
The Qi Lin is used in Feng Shui against bad luck and evil. Practical uses of the Qi Lin are to deflect bad Chi from ‘poison arrows’ for example roads or buildings pointing at you house. It is used as a cure for negative energy and Chi. It is used to deflect the negative effects of the ‘Annual Three Killings’ in Feng Shui.