The Koi in Japanese Art

Posted on | June 1, 2010 | 5 Comments

Nothing is more soothing and meditative than to watch koi swimming lazily in a pond, and yet the symbolism for koi is anything but peaceful. There is a well-known legend dating back to ancient China about one koi that traveled the long distance upstream against the strong Yellow River current and successfully made it over the infamous Dragon Gate Falls, a seemingly overwhelming barrier.  It was such an impossible task that the koi was rewarded by being transformed into a dragon.  This legend was later introduced to Japan where it became part of Japanese lore, and the koi became a symbol of worldly aspiration and achievement, tenacity of purpose, and indomitable courage to the Japanese.  Families display koinobori (flying carp banners) outside their houses each year on May 5th on Children’s Day (once known as Boys’ Day or Tango no Sekku) as a visible prayer for their children to grow up strong and healthy and to be able to withstand all the fierce currents of adversity.  The koi symbolism is also appropriate for wishing students to do well in their examinations and for wishing anyone continued success in life.

An example of this legend is seen in this design on a fabric panel wall hanging.  It shows the koi approaching a waterfall with a small dragon at the top right.  The kanji on the upper right reads “Gateway to Success,” which makes this wall hanging a great gift to inspire a student or someone starting out in business.

Koi, Dragon and Waterfall Quilted Wall Hanging
Another example of this design can be seen in this panel:
Koi, Pines and Waterfall Quilted Wall Hanging
The symbol of the koi is a great reminder for us all to reach deep inside to find the inner strength we need to achieve our goals.


5 Responses to “The Koi in Japanese Art”

    June 1st, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

    I am your first follower, Melissa.

    Those are absolutely gorgeous hangings. Love the colour.

  2. maxmew
    July 30th, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    it was very interesting to read
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  3. mhennrick
    July 31st, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

    Quoting is fine–just please have a link back to this source URL. The link to my twitter page is available on this blog.

  4. Joanne Masuda
    June 13th, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

    What are the measurements of the Koi, Pines and Waterfall Quilted Wall Hanging? Can it be purchased? Where?

  5. mhennrick
    June 14th, 2017 @ 9:28 am

    Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately, that wall hanging is no longer available. I have that design in a small size made into a pillow on my Etsy Shop I have other koi designs in wall hangings available

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