By Crystal Morey
The Japanese Kirin traces its origins to Chinese mythology, but they have diverged quite a bit since then, both in physical appearance and attributes. In Japan, Kirin are believed to be more powerful than the dragon or phoenix, but are much less aggressive...
The Kirin is a benevolent creature (a protector) that, while incredibly powerful, will not harm another living creature unnecessarily. They do not hunt or eat meat and supposedly move without disrupting even the grass underfoot.
They are said to appear only in lands ruled by a just and virtuous leader, therefore the appearance of a Kirin is a very good omen, (particularly for the ruling family) as they are fierce adversaries of deceit and cruelty. Some legends portray Kirin as a sacred pet of the gods. They are said to have the head of a dragon, the body of a deer, often covered with the scales of a fish or dragon, the legs of a horse and the tail of a bull.
They usually have antlers or a single horn in the center of their foreheads. Kirin means giraffe in Japanese, and while the do not resemble a giraffe in appearance, it is believed that the Kirin was fashioned after the giraffe’s serene disposition.
While Kirin are peaceful creatures, when angered they roar with the sound of thunder and can spit fire. They are unrivaled defenders of the innocent. The images included are from my upcoming book, Japanese Mythical Creatures due out this Fall...
(Crystal Morey works for Gomineko Books and is a contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. For more info on Gomineko Books please visit their website: www.gominekobooks.com.)