- General

Legends of the Unicorn – Symbolism and Meaning

Unicorn is one of the most popular mythical creatures that seem to exist in many culture. In the West, unicorn is usually portrayed as a slender, white beautiful horse with a spiralling horn on its forehead. Unicorns appear only to the pure at heart according to the some legend, this is perhaps why so few of us have seen one. Although the behavior and appearance of the unicorn differs depending on the location, it was usually considered untamable and wild in the Western world, while in the Orient it was gentle, peaceful, meek and said to be the bringer of good luck.

In the West the unicorn was first mentioned by a Greek physician and historian of Persia and India, Ctesias, in 398 BC. According to him, unicorns lived in India. Ctesias described the creatures as “wild asses which are as big as a horse, or even bigger. Their heads are dark red, their bodies are white and their eyes are deep blue. The horn on their forehead is quite long, about half-a-meter long”. the horn was also described as white at the base, dark brown or black in the middle and with a red, sharp tip. People believed that the horn possesses healing abilities. It became quite fashionable amongst royalty and nobility in the Middle Ages to own a drinking cup made of the horn of unicorn since it was supposed to detect poison. The animal seems to be a mixture of a Himalayan antelope, Indian rhinoceros and the wild ass.

In China, their unicorn is called as Qilin or Chilin/ Kilin. The Chinese unicorn is regarded as one of the four sacred beasts: Qilin, Phoenix, Dragon and the Tortoise. Qilin is also considered as a creature of great power and wisdom. Its appearance was always considered a sign of good luck. The Chinese believe that Qilin can only appear during the time when there is a wise and kind ruler or during the time when these great leaders is about to die or being born.

In the West, unicorn is a symbol of strength, agility, endurance, wisdom, perseverance and playfulness. It is also represents hope, purity, grace and love. While in China, this sacred creature is a symbol of good luck, protection and wisdom.