A fine jade figure of a qilin

A fine jade figure of a qilin


18th century
Length: 4 in, 10.2 cm

Shown in a recumbent position with its head turned over its back and exhaling a cloud of qi on which rest books tied with a ribbon. The qilin has two horns, tied with a ribbon, a long, finely incised mane, protruding eyes, a ruyi-shaped nose, long whiskers, scaly haunches, a muscular body with a ridged chest, cloven hooves, and an incised, many-branched tail. The semi-translucent stone is a greenish-white tone.

Formerly in an English private collection.

The qilin is kind to all creatures, being so gentle it does not even crush grass when walking upon it, and it only appears during the reign of a benevolent king. This particular group represents the rebus Lintu yushu (May you give birth to an illustrious son).

For similar examples, see Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935–6, no. 2864, from the collection of Oscar Raphael; The Deep Affection for Jade, no. 117, pp. 170–1; Jadeware (III): The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, no. 94, p. 114; Keverne, Jade, fig. 67, p. 154; Levy, Jade, p. 8; and Rawson and Ayers, Chinese Jade throughout the ages, no. 374.