This is the first book published in the English language to explore the origin and significance of the mythic Chinese unicorn and its influence on later unicorn myths. It proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Chinese unicorn was not the qilin, but a one-horned female goat-like beast called the zhi. It also examines the real animals upon which the myth was based. Its most significant finding, however, is that the unicorn zhi was the ultimate symbol of justice under the law in ancient China. Making judicious use of all available evidence, historical, epigraphical, archeological, art historical and scientific, this book explains how the myth of the unicorn began in China then gradually spread into other parts of Asia and Europe. The myth of the unicorn has become universal in scope because it embodies the longing for ideal justice. However, images of unicorns are anything but universal, because as a mythic beast, it is capable of endless transformations. Thus, at different times and in different places, images of unicorns have varied widely. It is for this reason that the true origin and significance of the mythic unicorn in ancient China has for so long been obscured.

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