Koi Fish Tattoos and Their Meaning

Now that you have already decided to get yourself a tattoo the first part of the process is over. You just have to find the right tattoo design for you and as this is a major decision you should take your time and carefully figure out what type of tattoo you would like to have. Tattoo designs are only limited by your imagination and the capability of your chosen tattoo artist. A design worth consideration is the Koi fish tattoo; they are very popular and hold great symbolism.

So, what exactly is a Koi fish? Koi fish are large freshwater fish related to the Carp family and have distinctive bright or contrast coloring however, the orange and red Koi fish are often mistaken for large goldfish. The most common of the Koi fish colors are: Red, orange, white, black and blue. Just like many other types of fish their environment dictates how big they get, most grow no bigger than a mans forearm but with sufficient room they can reach sizes of up to 3 feet in length.

Koi fish are most treasured by the Japanese who have maintained a great respect and love of the Koi fish for thousands of years. They also breed them to stock sacred and ornamental ponds and because they are such beautiful fish.

Symbolical Meaning of Koi Fish Tattoos:

Koi fish has indeed become a favorite design for tattoo enthusiasts because of the symbolism it represents. Its meaning varies depending on how it is inked on the body.  If tattooed with running water, the koi is meant to symbolize courage and the ability to overcome life’s difficulties. When the koi in the tattoo is shown swimming upstream, it can be used to mean that the person is still struggling with their problem, if downstream it implies that the person has already overcome their difficulty.

These symbolism attached to koi fish are usually derived from the myths, legends and stories from ancient China and Japan.  They all based upon the way it behaves, either in the pond or in the wild.  China, on the other hand, have a very special interpretation of koi fish in general.

Here are Other Meanings Associated with Koi Fish:

  • Legend has it in China that 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. Based on that belief, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.
  • In Japan, the koi climb the waterfall bravely, and if they are caught, they face their death on the cutting board bravely, like samurai warrior facing a sword. It’s considered a manly symbol, especially after it was appropriated by the Boys’ Day Festival in Japan where each son in the family is honored by a koi flag as an inspiration to the young that they might grow strong and resilient like this extraordinary fish.
  • With its beauty and charm, the koi is also a popular symbol for the family, especially in Japan black koi for father, flame red koi for mother, blue and white for boy, and pink and red for girl.
  • Because of its innate capacity to survive any types of living conditions, it has become a symbol of strength and determination to overcome obstacles. With its perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose, it stands for the courage and ability to attain high goals.
  • In Buddhish Religion, the Koi Fish is said to represent courage. Humans ’swim’ through the ‘ocean of suffering’ without fear, just like a fish swims through water with full determination.
  • Others believe that the koi fish means good fortune or good luck.

Placement and Design of Koi Fish Tattoos:

Koi Fish Tattoos are commonly inked in elaborate and colorful manner on large body areas such as ribs, back, arms, chest, shoulder and legs. These are the common tattoo locations as koi fish design are normally very large tattoos, with intricate shading and colors to depict their rainbow of scales and their strong swimming motion against the current.

It includes backgrounds, mostly water and bamboo and can be combined with other floral designs such as cherry blossom and lotus. Other favored tattoo images such as hearts, suns or moons and even tribal or Celtic touch can also be added. Koi tattoos is supposed to be in harmony with you and your surroundings so make sure that when you decide to get one, its a design that is well thought of.

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