For a similar example, see The Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection of Netsuke, Part III, sold in these Rooms, 18 October 1988, lot 260.
The kirin is one of four divine creatures of Chinese mythology. As an emblem of perfect goodness, the appearance of one on Earth is representative of a happy augury. It is assumed to be the noblest of creatures, being the incarnate essence of the 'five primordial elements' (the active principles in nature). As the paragon of virtue it has no equal. Its wisdom is so profound that it was even consulted by Kao Yao, the minister of crime under the Emperor Shun (c. 2255BC) in difficult cases.