What’s That? ‘The Goat’ at Penn Carey Law

The bronze sculpture called ‘Hsieh-Chai’ has been Penn Carey Law’s mascot-in-chief since its dedication in 1962.

Bronze statue of a goat is displayed in the lobby of Penn Carey Law School.
The bronze sculpture called “Hsieh-Chai,” also known as The Goat, at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. (Image: Courtesy of Penn Carey Law)
    • This is …

      Philadelphia sculptor Henry Mitchell’s 1962 bronze piece “Hsieh-Chai,” affectionately known as The Goat. The sculpture was commissioned by the late law professor Clarence Morris, a nationally known scholar and teacher of torts. He was also an art aficionado and a scholar of Chinese law at a time when many Americans studying China were unduly influenced by Cold War ideology, according to a piece on Morris written by the late Penn Chinese studies expert W. Allyn Rickett.

      A Chinese legend says the Hsieh-Chai was a supernatural goat-like creature endowed with a single horn and the ability to discern the guilt or innocence of those accused of crimes in ancient China. The creature was said to assist in the administration of justice by butting the guilty and leaving the innocent in peace.

    • It lives …

      At the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

      Morris learned of the legend of Hsieh-Chai during his work on Chinese law and thought it would be a fitting artwork for the new 1962 addition to the law building, according to a remembrance by former law school dean Jefferson Fordham. Morris proposed the piece to his friend Mitchell, who created The Goat in Italy.

      “The sculpture has such a presence at the Law School that the communal space in which it is located—the Haaga Lounge—has over time informally taken on the sculpture’s name,” says Jo-Ann Verrier, the school’s vice dean for administrative services. “The Goat is so famous that it is located in … The Goat!”

    • It’s cool because …

      The sculpture was immediately embraced as the school’s mascot-in-chief, Verrier says. Now, Penn Carey Law students use it as a meeting place and touch it prior to exams for good luck.

      “Professor Morris believed that the study of international law was critical to students’ understanding of our own institutions,” Penn Carey Law Dean Sophia Z. Lee says. “The Law School’s commitment to comparative law perspectives has only grown stronger in the decades since. The Goat has also evolved fittingly into a tangible symbol of our vibrant community.”

      The Goat’s provenance offers a reminder about the rule of law and its enduring place in civilization, Verrier says. “This statue reminds us that the role of lawyers—to build systems that are designed to implement justice and fairness—is constant and critical,” she says.