The Xi-rhinoceros is a mythical three-horned beast that was described among the wildlife found on the Cauldron and Pray-and-Pass Mountains, and on Mount Min (East China).

It was said to look like a black water buffalo with a large pig’s head, a distended belly, and short legs ending in three-toed elephant’s feet. Its most distinctive trait was that it has three horns, found on the back of its nose, forehead, and crown.

According to Strassberg in his Chinese Bestiary, the forehead and crown horns fall once a year, however the nose horn, which helps the Xi eat, does not fall off.

The Xi-rhinoceros feed primarily on thorny bushes, and therefore often drool blood from the skin of the face of the lower abdomen.

In ancient Chinese tradition the Xi was considered a protector. Images and figure of this beast were often placed near tomb’s entrance to protect the person buried inside against evil spirits or grave robbers.


-Strassberg, R. E. (2002) A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. University of California Press.

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