Friday, January 10, 2014

Fishy traditions - Goldfish

"Goldfish was introduced into Japan via China in the sixteenth century where they were popular and kept only by the aristocracy and samurai. The Japanese set up breeding programs and eventually developed their unique strains of goldfish. "

Keeping my mind working, well trying to at least!  Why goldfish, well a couple of years ago, I had a  print that needed framing and so we went to the framers in town.  He offered to do it for nothing if LS would restore for him  a modern Japanese scroll of goldfish.  To be honest I did not like it at the time, yet the goldfish swam with great gusto across the paper and I grew to like it.  Occasionally my job is to take photos of what was happening in the studio, a record to send to the client. 
If you look at the number of smaller goldfish you will see that there are nine  all told with the larger fish, a lucky number in China. Giving a present with a depiction of goldfish means that you are wishing the receiver of your gift good luck or prosperity, or even good business.  Also there are eight gold fish and one black, this is to give positive energies and push away negative energies within the houshold
The thing of course about most of Japanese art work is it's symbolic nature, dragons (and the dragon is supposed to have changed from a fish) and carp which are the larger species of goldfish all have their tales to tell.

"The dragon carp symbolizes high ambitions, wealth and success. The Golden Carp is known for its legendary courage to swim against rapid currents and is therefore a symbol of perseverance, achievement and career success. According to some the carp turns into the revered Celestial Dragon when it makes a final leap across the Dragon gate. Keeping this symbol brings literary and scholastic luck to students and excellent career luck to working people."

I love the idea of the Golden Carp leaping across the currents so similar to our own salmon as they come back for breeding, and probably why the Celtic fish would also be revered as they came back to our rivers.  I was forever restocking our pond with goldfish as the local heron would come to feast on these captive creatures.  When we are on our travels I see these great grey birds  in the sky occasionally, their necks hunched as they flap their  wings slowly, they always seem incredibly thin and rather raggedy like old men standing in the water waiting for a hapless fish to swim along.


  1. I think Carp are stunning and a few years ago, was dragged into someone's garden to see their pride and joy: a TINY pond heaving with enormous and beautiful Carp, shoehorned in, and in seeming distress at their inability to swim. I think this is a common thing in our often small suburban gardens in this country and it's wonderful to see them moving around with ease, or captured as these are, so beautifully on paper. Fabulous post Thelma!

  2. Glad you liked it Em. My son and I built two ponds, in the larger shallower pond the goldfish bred, but unfortunately the dog chased through this pond and ruptured it and it became a sunken garden. The first pond was dug and the liner folded in to be filled with water the next day and the first thing I discovered the next morning were two newts waiting for the water ;)