Japanese Culture

KIRIN

Kirin is a mythological sacred creature known in East Asian cultures. It appears when the king governs in perfect virtues called Jin 仁. 

麒麟 KIRIN

It’s a sign of peace and tranquillity.

麒麟 KIRIN

It looks like a deer and has a head like a dragon, one-three horns, cloven hoofs like a cow and scales on its body. 

麒麟 KIRIN

Old books say “Ki” is a male, “Rin” female, but it depends on the book.

和漢三才図会

The birth of Sage Confucius  麟吐玉書

It is said that right before Confucius was born a Kirin appeared in front of Confucius’s mother and an auspicious scroll came out from its mouth. The scroll said that child of water spirit would become a person who had a virtue of king. The mother put a string on its neck. It left after two nights.

The birth of Sage Confucius  麟吐玉書

The capture of Kirin  西狩獲麟

One day when Sage Confucius was 72, a Kirin was captured. People were afraid of the weird creature and killed it. Confucius noticed it had the string around its neck and found he wouldn’t be long before he died. He sighed deeply “what have I been doing? I got stuck”. He stopped writing “Spring and Autumn” that was one of five Confucian books.

The capture of Kirin  西狩獲麟

by Tattooist Ryugen

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