Bas-relief of the Four Holy Beasts at Đức Thánh Trần Temple, HCMC, Vietnam

The Four Holy Beasts (四靈 or 四聖獣) are Chinese astronomical and cultural Four Benevolent Animals that are spread in the East Asian cultural sphere. They are mentioned in the Chinese classic Book of Rites[1] and includes the Dragon (龍) in the East, the Qilin (麟) in the West, the Turtle (龜) in the North, and the Phoenix (鳳) in the South.


Phoenix depicted at the Longshan temple, Taiwan

The Four Holy Beasts differs from Four Symbols in that Qilin replaces the White Tiger. The Four Symbols are the Azure Dragon (青龍) in the East, White Tiger (白虎) in the West, Vermilion Bird (朱雀) in the South, and the Black Tortoise (玄武) in the North.

Regional examples


In Ho Chi Minh City, there are four areas named after the beasts in Suối Tiên Park. They are the Thuỷ Long(水龍) Palace, the Kỳ Lân(麒麟) Palace, the Kim Quy(金龜) Lake, and the Phượng Hoàng(鳳凰) Palace.


Summer Palace has statues of the four Beasts.


Patterns of the four holy beasts are found in Bronze mirrors of the Goryeo dynasty and Pottery.[2]


See also


  1. ^ Liji "Liyun (The conveyance of rite" / Ceremonial usages; their origins, development, and intention)" 23. quote: "何謂四靈?麟鳳龜龍,謂之四靈。" translation based on James Legge's: "What were the four numinous creatures? They were the lin, the feng, the tortoise, and the dragon."
  2. ^ "사령문". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture.