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In China, this mythical Qilin creature is carved into stone sculptures, animated on lacquer art, painted on porcelain and described in poetry and literature. But what exactly is a Qilin?

Meet the Qilin

Qilin objects in our collection

The Qilin is a bit of a mystery. Over hundreds of years, the form has changed and there is no exact record of how it looked.

Circular porcelain dish decorated in underglaze blue with a Qilin near a palm tree, China, late Ming dynasty, A.1919.338

Jade figure of a boy riding a Qilin, China, 19th - 20th century, A.1994.838

Qilin figure in bronze, China, Qing Dynasty, 19th century, A.1994.916

Lacquer dish decorated with a large Qilin in the centre and a further four Qilin around the edge: China, 1522–1566, A.1965.534

Porcelain vase, decorated in brilliant underglaze blue with a sea monster, birds and Qilin, China, 1662 - 1722, A.1948.118

Qilin figure, carved in speckled green jade, China, 17th - 18th century, A.1924.404

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