KOI OR CARP TATTOOS
Koi or carp is a form of beautiful ornamental fish kept for decorative purposes in outdoor ponds, water gardens or fountains. It can be found in colors that include white, black, yellow, red, gold, deep orange, blue, cream etc. The history of koi goes back to china, about 2000 years ago. These stories were later absorbed into the Japanese culture.
The word koi comes from Japanese which simply means ‘carp’. It is more specifically called nishikigoi in Japan which means ‘brocaded carp’. In Japanese, koi is a homophone for another word that means love or affection. So, the beautiful fish koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan.
Koi fish or carp is a form of Japanese tattooing. They have been popular images throughout the Japanese tattoo design and that style is now very prevalent in western tattoo culture too. Koi as a tattoo represents wisdom, knowledge, loyalty, longevity etc. A koi’s longevity symbolizes perseverance and its beauty in form and movement had inspired various artists. It has delighted many by changing the way it swims in response to music’s. In tattoo imagery of koi’s, especially in combination with flowing water, it symbolizes courage, achievement and overcoming life’s obstacles.
A koi tattoo represents different things depending on its color, number and direction which it’s swimming in the stream. For example; a tattoo of five golden koi represents eternal wealth and well being. Each color represents a specific meaning. Some people believe that the color of the koi tattoo that you have should be in harmony with your body and surroundings.
It’s no wonder that koi tattoos are popular were masculinity is valued. In Japan, usually the koi tattoos are found on a young man’s fore-arm or leg. As he continued his life’s journey he would eventually earn a dragon, as in the legend, the fish turned into dragon from the dragon gate. Coloring, scaling, whiskers and special marks represent a range of qualities a young man might wish for in his life. A white koi with a single red spot on the head will be the chosen design to represent personal greatness and national pride.
However, the koi is more than just a gorgeous collectible fish. It is one of the most popular and beautiful Japanese tattoo symbols with a great inner meaning. Although carp is Chinese in origin, it’s widely celebrated in Japan for its numerous manly qualities. It said to have the ability to climb waterfalls. If caught, the koi is said to await the cutting knife without the quiver, not unlike a samurai warrior facing a sword. According to an ancient Chinese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called dragon gate on the yellow river, it would be transformed into a dragon, proof of its successful struggle against the long obstacles. Based on that legend, koi became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancements.
In Buddhism, koi represents courage and fearless nature. The fish swimming through the ocean is compared to the human life. The fearless and courageous journey of the fish through the ocean is a reminder of human suffering through our own life’s journey.
The beauty and charm of this fish has made it a popular symbol for the families, especially in Japan. In Japan, tubular flags designed as koi are raised on children’s day. Koi came to be associated with so many masculine and positive qualities that it was appropriated for the annual boy’s day festival in Japan. In this festival, each son of the family is honored by a koi flag as an inspiration to the young that they might grow strong and courageous like this extraordinary fish.
The Japanese associated this fish with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose. Because of its strength and determination to overcome the obstacles, koi symbolizes for courage and the ability to attain higher goals. Another fact of this fish had contributed to these interpretations and associations. It is that this fish can live a very long life under the correct circumstances.
In general, we can say that koi tattoos are symbols of courage, love, affection, strength and perseverance.