Meaning Of Koi Fish

The Meaning Of Koi Fish – The Japanese Wonder

Cool looking Koi fishAmong the most beautiful of ornamental fish in the world is the Koi fish.  Impressive in their color variation and size (they can grow to be over 2 feet long); Koi fish have become very popular worldwide among freshwater aquarists.  Perhaps you have wanted to know more about this wonderful fish.  This article will help you understand the meaning of Koi fish as well as their symbolism.

Firstly, let us look at the basic etymology of Koi. Koi is a Japanese word.  The meaning of Koi fish, when translated literally from Japanese to English, is “carp.”  This is an apt origin for its name since the colorful variations of Koi fish that we know today are all descendent from the common carp.

For centuries, the common carp had been a domesticated species used in aquaculture as a healthy and viable food source across Asia.  In Japan during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the common carp was first bred to achieve desired color variations starting from natural mutations.  This is what led to the Koi fish that we know today.

Since becoming and ornamental fish, the meaning of Koi fish has transcended the practical boundaries of simple etymology and fish husbandry.  As with most other beautiful creatures on earth, they have also become associated with symbolism and mystery.  The symbolism of Koi fish starts in the original meaning of Koi fish in Japanese.  The word koi in Japanese is also a homophone for another word which means “affectionate love.”  This word association, combined with their natural beauty, led to Koi fish quickly becoming associated with love, friendship and loyalty in Japanese culture.  The symbolism of koi fish in Japan is profound.  It is found in art, literature and music.

As such, the meaning of koi fish around the world has often taken on the amalgamation of a fish that is uniquely colorful and beautiful closely associated with Japanese culture, and one that possesses a positive symbolic image.  After all, when you see a koi fish it is hard not to think of it as being beautiful, exotic and serene.

Two Koi Fish

The symbolism of Koi fish and its close ties to Japanese culture have also made their image popular among tattoo artists.  Their bright colors and symbolic message of love and friendship make them a natural subject matter for a tattoo.  This basic symbology, however, is augmented by additional legends and lore of both Japan and China.

In China koi fish are associated with good fortune. This originates from a legend of the Dragon Gate in which a Koi fish swam vertically up a waterfall and was magically transformed into a dragon.  In Japan, aside from being symbols for love, the symbolic meaning of koi fish can also be taken to represent masculinity, strength, courage and individualism.

Even the direction in which Koi fish swim has symbolic value.  Feng Shui experts and others believe that if a Koi fish is swimming in a downward direction it indicates that tribulation and hardship is near.  Like wise, if they swim in an upward direction, it indicates that challenges and barriers have been removed.

A white Koi fish

As you can see, the meaning of koi fish carries an interesting history.  Whether you had only thought of them as simple ornamental fish or if you already had a partial knowledge of their symbolism and popularity, they are undoubtedly majestic creatures.  They are worthy of all of the symbolic praise which has been placed upon them.  Be it from a far, as an observing admirer; be it symbolically, as in having a koi fish tattoo; or be it directly, as a keeper of Koi fish, you will find Koi fish to be bountiful sources for enriched enjoyment.

Go here to view the different Koi types

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