The unicorn as a messenger of heaven

The Chinese traditionally thought of a unicorn, called qi-lin, as a messenger of heaven. The creature would not harm anything, not even bending a blade of grass in its passage. A unicorn appeared to Confucius’s mother just before she gave birth, bringing her a jade tablet. In the hopes of greatness for their own children, many a mother will hang a picture of a qi-lin in their quarters, and to say to a person that a qi-lin appeared at their birth is still a complement.

The reference for the qi-lin was shared by Ghengis Khan. According to his biographer, as Ghengis Khan began his planned invasion of Nepal and India, a qi-lin appeared to him, stood squarely in the path of his army and did homage to him. The great Khan turned around.

I used this in my novel, The Garden at the Roof of the World, to explain why the King of Lo Mantang is so eager to help save the life of a unicorn.

If you wish to learn more about unicorns, try my forthcoming book, The Reality, Mythology, and Fantasies of Unicorns available for purchase at:
Barns & Noble

and at the publisher’s bookstore.

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