Its descriptions are various, but it usually combines a dragon's face and scaley hide with the body of a hoofed mammal, either a horse or a deer. Its body is often wreathed in flames, and it can breathe fire. It is sometimes depicted with one horn, and thus thought associated with the unicorn in the West, but it is just as frequently adorned with two. It usually has no gender, representing the perfect balance between male and female and androgynity.
Although it looks fearsome, the Qilin only punishes the wicked. It can walk on grass yet not trample the blades, and it can also walk on water. As it is a peaceful creature, its diet does not include flesh. It also takes great care when it walks never to harm or tread on any living thing.
This heavenly beast is often said to live for two thousand years and to be only seen on earth once a millenium, to usher in a new era, appearing at the birth of great and benevolent leaders.