A qilin has a single horn on its forehead, a yellow belly, a multicoloured back, the hooves of a horse, the body of a deer, and the tail of an ox. Gentle of disposition, it never walks on verdant grass or eats living vegetation.
The advent of a great sage was made known when a qilin appeared to the pregnant mother of Confucius. The qilin thereupon coughed up an inscribed jade tablet that foretold the future greatness of the unborn child. The death of Confucius was foreshadowed when a qilin was injured by a charioteer.