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Kirin dragon (Qilin): meaning & Tattoo symbolism

kirin dragon qilin meaning symbol

The Kirin Dragon (麒麟 / きりん) is a mythical creature of Japanese mythology. 🐉 Of Chinese mythology origin (Qilin), the Kirin is often considered as the equivalent of the unicorn in the West.

It generally appears in areas led by a wise and devoted chief. The males are named “ki” and females “rin”, the combination of the two characters forming the name “Kirin“. This legendary beast embodies pay and kindness.

Kirin dragon ring silver

Origin of the Kirin Dragon

The Kirin dragon was introduced to Japan through Chinese myths and legends where it is known as Qilin.

Over time, Chinese and Japanese conceptions have evolved to give birth to slightly different beings.

In Japan, the Kirin is considered the most powerful sacred animal of all, surpassing traditional creatures such as the dragon and the Phoenix.

The first Kirin is said to have appeared in the garden of the legendary Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) in 2697 BC.

About three centuries later, a couple of Kirin dragons were reported in the capital of Emperor Yao.

kirin dragon meaning

These two events testify to the magnanimous nature of the rulers.

The advent of a great sage was announced when a Qilin appeared to the pregnant mother of Confucius (6th century BC).

The Kirin dragon then regurgitated a tablet of jade on which was inscribed the greatness and potential of the future child to be born.

The death of Confucius was announced when a Kirin dragon was wounded by a carriage.

In 1414, a living giraffe was brought to China for the first time and presented as a Qilin dragon to Emperor Ming Yongle.

dragon qilin

Seeing the flattery intended for him, the old hard-boiled warrior suddenly remarked that the animal was certainly not a “qilin” and was not endowed with wisdom.

Giraffes are also called “Kirin” in Japanese, because of the features they share with the Qilin dragon.

Their long legs, scaly patterns, gentle nature and the bumps on their heads must have reminded the early Japanese of the appearance of the sacred beast.

Symbolism of the Kirin Dragon

Since the dawn of time, Qilin has been seen as pure and benevolent beasts.

Sculptures and paintings symbolizing their beneficial virtues have been created. The Kirin dragon is considered a symbol of justice, peace and wisdom.

Because of their divine character, images of Qilin frequently adorn temples and shrines.

The Kirin is an omen of good luck and prosperity, its appearance is often seen as a sign of great news.

Qilin Kirin dragon symbolism

Physical Appearance of the Kirin Dragon

The Kirin dragon is a mythical chimera. According to legends, it looks like a deer 🦌, a horse or a unicorn with a dragon’s head. 🐲

Scales cover its body. It has an oxtail, a floating mane and a horn (sometimes two).

Its body and hair are wrapped in an intense sacred fire. As for his face, it reflects the physiognomy of the Chinese dragon, it exudes absolute serenity.

Composed of several animals, the Qilin dragon is one of the rarest, most impressive and powerful creatures ever known in East Asia.

It is a royal, holy and highly revered animal. Qilin is often considered a god in its own right.

Kirin in Japanese Mythology

In Japanese folklore, the Kirin dragon is described as a good and gentle animal. He is a vegetarian and never harms others.

qilin dragon physiognomy

When he gallops, he does not trample on a single blade of grass and he takes care not to step on any living thing, even insects.

Its beauty is only surpassed by its rarity. The Kirin dragon appears only in times of peace on earth. 🦄

It is said that Qilin can only be seen on land belonging to wise and benevolent people.

The arrival of the mythical hoofed creature heralds a golden age. Although the Qilin dragon is a peaceful being like the Japanese dragon, it can be fast and fierce if need be.

It does not hesitate to attack under threat, or to defend an innocent being with its sacred fire.

kirin qilin japanese mythology

Kirin in Popular Culture

The Qilin dragon is popular in the Land of the Rising Sun, here are some of its appearances in Japanese culture:

  • Qilin is the name of a brand of Japanese beer. The logo was created in the effigy of the dragon and takes its values.
  • In the second generation of Pokémon, Girafarig (kirinriki in Japanese) is a giraffe that is surely inspired by the sacred creature.
  • In Final Fantasy 6, Kirin is an invocation. He also appears in Final Fantasy 14 in the form of a mount this time.
  • In Monster Hunter, Qilin is an ancient dragon that can control lightning.
kirin monster hunter

Kirin tattoo meaning

Nowadays, there are many mysterious and mystical designs on people in the street. As the iconography, mythology and Japanese culture in general has many characters and symbols.

We have done our research and in this article we present you the most influential and important symbols among the Nipponese myths, which will give even more meaning of Kirin tattoo.

Often considered the equivalent of the unicorn, it has a deer or horse body, scales, and one or two horns.

kirin tattoo meaning

This creature is protected by an aura of fire, and can even spit fire. The Qilin tattoo is the symbol of all that is good, pure and peaceful. 🐉

Also, in addition to speaking the language of humans, it can sense if someone is lying or has evil intentions. Usually, the Qilin is peaceful, it doesn’t harm anyone, not even insects or plants that it could crush.

But when it comes to defending good from evil, the Qilin will unleash fire on the most evil among us.

Don’t forget to take a look at our awesome collection of temporary dragon tattoos

You already know more about the Qilin dragon, a monster of Japanese folklore full of meaning and symbolism.

Remember that it is truly a creature with a pure heart and that it is harmless if you do no harm around you.

And that on the contrary, if by chance you meet one in your dreams, it is a very positive sign.