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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Mythic Chinese Unicorn

Author:
Jeannie Thomas Parker

Publisher: 
FriesenPress

Publication Date:
October 31, 2013



Abstract:

This is the first book 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 廌 (pronounced jhuhr). 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, archaeological, art historical and scientific, this book explains how the myth of the unicorn began in China and then gradually spread to other parts of Asia and Europe.

Table of Contents:

Introduction to the mythic Chinese unicorn
Earliest pictographic evidence for the zhi
The animal represented in the zhi pictograph
Later evolution of Chinese characters
The unicorn zhi and the law
The "Tibetan unicorn"
Images of zhi in the Shang dynasty
Earliest pictorial evidence for the zhi
The confusion about the lin
Auspicious animals in Han art
The zhi becomes a tomb door guardian
Three-dimensional images of unicorn zhi
The real unicorn Elasmotherium
Dragons' bones and dragons' teeth
The transformation of the unicorn
The rhinoceros in ancient China
The ancient uses of rhinoceros horn
Rhinoceros horn and the poisonfeather bird
Early maritime trade in rhino horn
The Cinnamon Route
The tastes of paradise
The mythic rhinoceros-unicorn
The magic of the horn
Ge Hong's ideas and their influence
The designs on the horn
The spirit- rhinoceros-unicorn xiniu
The ancient trade in narwhal horn
Narwhal horn becomes magical
Summary and conclusions

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