SF Bay Area Koi Club

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One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

07/24/2020 6:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


Red Koi, blue Koi, upstream, downstream, what are Koi meanings in tattoos?


If a tattoo is on your bucket list you might do a little research ahead of the permanent ink hitting your skin. Interestingly, Koi in tattoos represent many things, from the direction they are swimming, to the color of the Koi itself, and whether it is a standard fin or butterfly fin. Koi tattoo are some of the most intricate, colorful, and most common tattoo. Koi legends go back many, many years and symbolize heroism and sacred myths.


Koi, in general,  represent good fortune and luck. In Chinese art, Koi bring luck, wealth, and a happy marriage. In a tattoo, Koi swimming upstream represent striving amidst diversity and challenge, a new beginning, or to fulfil destiny which symbolizes the legend of the Dragon Koi. As legend tells it, Koi swam up stream in the Yellow River against great currents and adversity. The bravest of these was able to leap the falls and the Gods' rewarded it's bravery by turning it into a magnificent Golden Dragon. Those falls are known as Dragon's Gate. A Koi swimming downstream represents someone who has already dealt with trials and adversity and is moving on. For some, it may also represent giving up on someone or something. A single Koi is eye catching and double Koi represents yin-yang, the dance of life and harmony. Two Koi can also represent the ability to go with the flow. A tattoo with lotus added symbolizes purity, rebirth, and a successful struggle. A cherry blossom symbolizes fertility/femininity. Fallen cherry blossoms represent a fallen warrior/samurai. 


Colors also have specific symbolism attached to them. A full black Koi turning into a Dragon represents independence, unstoppable determination, courage, or life changes. The black Koi also symbolizes the father. The gold/yellow Koi symbolizes prosperity, good fortune, and treasure. The white Koi with a red marking on the head symbolizes career success. A white Koi with red lips symbolizes enduring love. A silver-gold platinum-colored Koi symbolizes business success. A red Koi symbolizes love, the mother of the family/power and bravery. Artificial Koi colors symbolize gender. A blue Koi symbolizes tranquility, masculinity, strength and the son. A pink Koi represents a delicate female and the daughter. 

Koi have powerful symbolism whether in legends, ponds, or tattoos that date back to ancient times and, thus, have stood the test of time, no wonder we are intrigued with them in art, ponds, and tattoos. Will you be checking out a Koi tattoo the next time you see one to see if you recognize it's symbolism?


by Brenda Bartz

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