Qilin – Mythical Beast

I am a white nephrite jade carving of a stylized recumbent qiling from China. I started my journey during the Qianlong Period (1736-1796). I have travelled far and been a member of other famous collections along my way. Prior to my February 2004 meeting with The Maridon Museum Founder, Mary Hulton Phillips, I was a member of the Sheldon M. Wool Collection of Chinese Art. Mrs Phillips thought I would be a perfect member of the Time Line Exhibit in her new museum, which she opened just three months after our meeting. Perfect timing and a perfect new home!

Now that we’ve talked a little about my history, I want to talk a little about who I am. Qilin, pronounced “kylin” are considered mythological beasts. Legend has it that I appear before the arrival of a great ruler to bear testimony to the benevolent nature of that ruler. The birth of Confuscious is said to have been foretold by a qilin. Even though referred to as a “beast,” depictions bearing the Buddhist influence present us as devine and peaceful creatures who take great care not to step on any living thing. We find reverence even in a blade of grass. We are often presented as walking on clouds or over water.

As you can see from my photo, I am quite serene and at peace among my other interesting companions in the Rear Gallery of the museum. Good omens, protection, success and longevity accompany me. Today, like so many other places, our museum is temporarily closed to the public. We will reopen our doors soon and I hope you will be on the wings of that first gust of fresh air to enter.