Flickr - archer10 (Dennis) - China-6505

Xiezhi (Chinese: 獬豸) is a Chinese legendary creature in the form of a goat or a lion with one straight horn in the middle of its forehead. When it sees two people fighting, it will impale the one that is in the wrong with its horn; it can by nature distinguish the innocent from the guilty. For that reason, xiezhi is regarded in East Asia as an allegory of legal justice.

An old Chinese word 灋 (pinyin: fǎ) means "law" and consists of characters 水 (water), 廌 (zhi) and 去 (to remove, to avoid).


The creature's original name consists of a single pictogram 廌 or 𢊁 (pinyin: zhì). Its synonym is 豸. Later, as monosyllabic words were often replaced with polysyllabic compounds, there started to be used 獬廌 (pinyin: xièzhì) and 解廌 (pinyin: jiězhì). Another name is 神羊 (pinyin: shényáng), which means "divine goat".

In Korea, the creature's name is haetae (해태) or haechi (해치).

The Japanese use the same kanji as the Chinese, but pronounce the names kaichi (獬豸(かいち), alt. kai-tsi, cai-zhi) and shin'yō (神羊(しんよう), alt. sin-you).