Koi art Some of the most famous and recognizable Chinese and Japanese koi art artwork is that of the carp.
Most Asian art enthusiasts are familiar with koi fish paintings and
ukiyo-e woodblock prints, as well as the koi art artwork it has inspired around the world.
And most people have seen the famous nishikigoi (錦鯉), or koi fish in many kinds of pictures and koi art!
But did you know the history behind this koi art artwork?
Do you know that koi fish is important to the Chinese and Japanese people?
NOTE: The word ‘koi’ used in the West to describe the variety of carp the Japanese call ‘nishikigoi’.
In Japan, the word ‘koi’ means ‘carp’ in general and used for all the
different species of koi fish, particularly wild carp.
In this hub, I’ll use the term ‘koi’ to describe the koi fish and koi art
about it and carp for everything else under the sun.
Information about the Asian Carp
A carp is a type of freshwater fish that can found in most areas
world (except the Middle East, the poles, and eastern Europe.
There are some carp species around the world, and there are both
wild and domesticated versions of every species.
The common carp seen in the Chinese and Japanese
paintingsbelieved to have originated in China and brought to Japan
at some point.
There are some carp species and subspecies, and many of these can found in both China and Japan.
The nishikigoi carp, which is what most Westerners call ‘koi’ or ‘koi
fish’, is an ornamental variety of domesticated carp which was first bred in Ojiya,
Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in the 1820s. There are now many varieties of koi which have exported and bred around the world.
Chinese koi fish art
China is the ancestral home of carp art, and where koi and
traditional Japanese carp art (especially the early paintings) draws much of its inspiration.
To the Chinese people, the carp is a symbol of perseverance, strength, and endurance.
In many Chinese folktales, the carp considered an incarnation of
the dragon that brings happiness and wealth to those whose path it crosses.
Also, with its long whiskers and scales, the carp said to resemble a dragon.
In fact, one of the most popular Chinese carp motifs is a carp(s)
swimming toward a waterfall and transforming into a dragon.
This motif based on an ancient Chinese legend about carp who
swim upstream in the Yellow River toward the mythical Dragon’s
Gate at the top of a giant legendary mountain.
Those few carp who swim up the waterfall and through the gate changed into dragons.
To this day there exists a saying in China: “lǐ yú tiào lóng mén” (“鲤鱼跳龙门”), or “The carp has leaped through the dragon’s gate.
” This saying is often used for students who pass their university
exams, or people in general who work hard at a task and succeed beyond their wildest expectations.
Some other common carp motifs in Chinese art include yin yang
carp (with a black and red carp forming the two sides of the yin
yang symbol), carp swimming among lotus flowers (a sacred
Buddhist symbol that represents mental harmony), and a group of
nine carp (with nine considered a lucky number by the Chinese) swimming together.
The carp can found in many kinds of Chinese artwork, including
scroll paintings, ink paintings, ceramics, and more.
Japanese Koi Art koi fish painting
Japan is the one country from where koi art has spread around the world.
Paintings and pictures of carp – in particular the koi carp – have
been made by artists and photographers in Japan and around the world.
In Japan, the carp represents good luck and good fortune. Also, the word ‘koi’ (鯉) pronounced the same as another word (‘恋’) meaning love and affection.
The Chinese legend of the Dragon’s Gate is also well-known in
Japan and the same motif of carp swimming up a waterfall is also common in Japan.
This motif can found in many the famous ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
Also to the carp swimming upstream, a carp swimming downstream can also found in Japanese art.
This carp said to have achieved its life goals while the one
swimming upstream and toward the Dragon’s Gate is still trying to make its dream come true.
Carp paintings made before the advent of ukiyo-e in the Edo
period showed a carp swimming in its natural environment in full color.
Many of these paintings were no doubt inspired by the Chinese carp paintings.
When ukiyo-e became popular, the carp became a popular subject
for the artists to depict in their prints.
Many of the ukiyo-e masters such as Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa
Kuniyoshi, and Kitao Masayoshi depicted the carp in its gracefulness and glory.
Many Japanese carp paintings also have a strong Buddhist connotation.
Some carp swimming in the ocean are symbolic of people
swimming through the “ocean of suffering” as a fish swims in the sea. Others reflect the Zen quality of finding peace in the moment by observing the carp.
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The Koi fish in Japanese Mythology
The koi has appeared in some Japanese folktales and legends, and
some of these legends have depicted in koi fish
Two ancient Japanese legends about koi fish that depicted in ukiyo-
e are the stories of the “golden boy” Kintarō wrestling the giant koi
fish and Oniwakamaru (the future Musashibo Benkei) finding and
killing at Bishimon Waterfall the giant carp that ate his mother.
Both depicted by ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Gyotaku Fish Prints
One of the most unique forms of art to come out of Japan is the gyotaku fish print.
Gyotaku is a form of art where a live fish rubbed in ink and stamped on paper to make an art print.
It is one that has spread beyond Japan and across the world.
Gyotaku created by Japanese fishermen during the 1800s as a way
to record their catches and display them for the world to see.
After a while, regular people and artists began to catch on to this art form and it became popular.
Koi are one of the most popular species of fish used for this form of
art, but rubber fish are becoming more and more popular nowadays.
The movements of the fish captured on paper are what makes this art form so unique.
Modern-Day Koi Art digital painting
The popularity of koi art has exploded across the world in recent decades.
The orange and white koi that most Westerners know has depicted
in pictures, paintings, posters, computer screensavers, mousepads, and more.
Many of the designs of the koi paintings based on the ancient
Chinese and Japanese koi fish paintings, and others have created
using modern-day technology such as computer vector graphics
and digital photography or digital painting
Koi paintings and pictures are also very popular feng shui décor, and all-around nice pictures to look at! Since the koi is a very
beautiful, relaxing fish to look at and has much symbolism attached
to it, it’s only natural that it would be perfect for a feng shui-
oriented home environment or someone who wants a good picture to help them relax.
In China and Japan, koi fish and koi art are as common and popular
as in the West nowadays, but there are still artists who paint carp
paintings (both regular and koi carp paintings) in the classical way.
You can buy my koi art digital koi fish painting at my Etsy store.https://www.etsy.com/shop/giobelkoicenter
Digital koi fish painting koi art feng shui
digitall paint replica of original oil painting, printed on premium artist canvas.
Framed/stretched ready to hang. Gallery wrapped, sides painted.
Feng Shui koi fish painting koi art work used to bring Feng Shui
luck and fortune by harnessing the life energy of “Chi”, or the “Dragon’s Cosmic Breath”.
Chi brings good fortune to those who surrounded by it.
The koi fish brings luck and wealth.
Koi fish paintings represent harmony and balance. Feng Shui fish paintings are the element of Water and bring Feng Shui fortune. Koi paintings are for home and office Feng Shui décor.
koi fish tattoo koi art
Besides to koi art, koi (and regular carp) tattoo designs have become popular all around the world.
Many people get very elaborate and beautiful koi tattoo designs
that have all the traditional attributes of the carp, as well as personal
meaning for the person tattooed.
Some of the traditional designs of koi swimming amidst lotuses,
bleeding koi, koi swimming in water, and koi swimming upstream
or up a waterfall are some of the designs many people have chosen for their koi fish tattoo.
check out koi fish color meaning chart for the koi fish meaning colors
koi fish drawing
How to draw koi fish koi art from wedrawanimals.com
Step 1: Let’s draw a koi fish! Start by drawing a semi-circle for the head.