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See also: Chinese Zodiac / Animal Years
麒麟 is the title of a mythical beast of Asia.
The animal is thought to be related to the giraffe, and in some ways, it is a giraffe. However, it is often depicted with the horns of a dragon or deer and sometimes with the body like a horse but many variations exist.
In Japanese it is pronounced "Kirin" as in "Kirin Ichiban" beer.
1. 麒麟 is sometimes spelled as "kylin".
2. In Japanese, this is the only Kanji word for giraffe. Therefore in Japan, this word needs context to know whether you are talking about the mythical creature or the long-necked giraffe of Africa.
3. Apparently, this was the first word used for regular giraffes in China (some were brought from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty - probably around the year 1400). Though the mythical creature may have existed before, the name "qilin" was given to the "new giraffe". 麒麟 is because, more than 600 years ago, giraffes somewhat matched the mythical creature's description when Chinese people saw them for the first time. Later, to avoid such an ambiguous title, a three-character word was devised to mean a "giraffe of Africa". The characters for "qilin" shown here are only for the mythological version in modern Chinese.
4. More information about the qilin / kirin from Wikipedia.
5. This creature is sometimes translated as the "Chinese Unicorn", even though it is generally portrayed with two horns. I think this is done more for the fantasy aspect of the unicorn and because most westerners don't know what a qilin or kirin is (this avoids a long explanation by the translator).
6. In Korean, this can mean kirin or simply giraffe (usually the mythological creature is what they would think of when seeing these characters alone on a wall scroll).
During the Tang Dynasty, a man named Jia Dao (born in the year 779), a well studied scholar and poet, went to the capital to take the imperial examination.
One day as he rides a donkey through the city streets, a poem begins to form in his mind. A portion of the poem comes into his head like this:
"The bird sits on the tree branch near a pond,
A monk approaches and knocks at the gate..."
At the same time, he wondered if the word "push" would be better than "knock" in his poem.
As he rides down the street, he imagines the monk pushing or knocking. Soon he finds himself making motions of pushing, and shaking a fist in a knocking motion as he debates which word to use. He is quite a sight as he makes his way down the street on his donkey with hands and fists flying about as the internal debate continues.
As he amuses people along the street, he becomes completely lost in his thoughts and does not see the mayor's procession coming in the opposite direction. Jia Bao is blocking the way for the procession to continue down the road, and the mayor's guards immediately decide to remove Jia Bao by force. Jia Bao, not realizing that he was in the way, apologizes, explains his poetic dilemma, and awaits his punishment for blocking the mayor's way.
The mayor, Han Yu, a scholar and author of prose himself, finds himself intrigued by Jia Dao's poem and problem. Han Yu gets off his horse, and addresses Jia Bao, stating, "I think knock is better." The relieved Jia Bao raises his head, and is invited by the mayor to join the procession, and are seen riding off together down the street exchanging their ideas and love of poetry.
In modern Chinese, this idiom is used when someone is trying to decide which word to use in their writing or when struggling to decide between two things when neither seems to have a downside.
Below are some entries from our dictionary that may match your year of the horse search...
If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese
|Simple Dictionary Definition|
| wǔ / wu3
uma / うま
7th earthly branch: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., noon, 5th solar month (6th June-6th July), year of the Horse; ancient Chinese compass point: 180° (south)
seventh sign of Chinese zodiac (The Horse, 11am-1pm, south, May); (personal name) Kogoe; (place-name) Uma
| bǐng wǔ / bing3 wu3
hinoeuma;heigo / hinoeuma;hego / ひのえうま;へいご
forty-third year C7 of the 60 year cycle, e.g. 1966 or 2026
43rd year of the sexagenary cycle (year of the Fire Horse, renowned for disasters and the birth of women destined to kill their husbands); (given name) Heigo; (given name) Hyougo
|umadoshi / うまどし||
year of the horse
| wǔ mǎ / wu3 ma3
uuma / uma / うーま
Year 7, year of the Horse (e.g. 2002)
(personal name) U-ma
| mǎ nián / ma3 nian2
Year of the Horse (e.g. 2002)
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|uma||mǎ / ma3 / ma|
|oma hi / omahi||huǒ mǎ / huo3 ma3 / huo ma / huoma|
|麒麟||kirin||qí lǐn / qi2 lin3 / qi lin / qilin||ch`i lin / chilin / chi lin|
|Push or Knock||反復推敲|
|fǎn fù tuī qiāo|
fan3 fu4 tui1 qiao1
fan fu tui qiao
|fan fu t`ui ch`iao
fan fu tui chiao
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Some people may refer to this entry as Year of the Horse Kanji, Year of the Horse Characters, Year of the Horse in Mandarin Chinese, Year of the Horse Characters, Year of the Horse in Chinese Writing, Year of the Horse in Japanese Writing, Year of the Horse in Asian Writing, Year of the Horse Ideograms, Chinese Year of the Horse symbols, Year of the Horse Hieroglyphics, Year of the Horse Glyphs, Year of the Horse in Chinese Letters, Year of the Horse Hanzi, Year of the Horse in Japanese Kanji, Year of the Horse Pictograms, Year of the Horse in the Chinese Written-Language, or Year of the Horse in the Japanese Written-Language.