Along with tortoise, dragon and phoenix, qilin is one of the four holy animals in Chinese mythology. It is sometimes described as unicorn in English. However, actually, in many depictions, it has two horns. It has the head of a dragon, the body of a deer, the tail of an ox and the hooves of a horse.
Qilin is always depicted as a gentle and friendly animal. When it walks on flowers and grass, it never cause any harm to them. It eats a vegetarian diet and avoids causing harm to any living beings.
It is associated with sages and other wise people and it will only appear in areas ruled by a wise and benevolent leader. It is said to be a bringer of glad tidings, foretelling that a sage or a great people is to come. Legend has it that a qilin appeared to the pregnant mother of Confucius. Therefore, in Chinese old custom, the pictures of qilin were always displayed in the pregnant mother’s bedroom in the hope of bearing a child of great intelligence.