Meanings And Traditions Of Koi Fish Tattoos

koi-fish-tattoosKoi fish tattoos are some of the most beautiful, intricate, and somewhat common tattoos permanently inked on the body. They are a gorgeous piece of art with glistening scales and elegant angles and curves displaying the gentle nature of the good luck fish. Koi means ‘carp’ in Japanese, but just because its literal meaning is simple does not mean that the symbolism behind the koi fish tattoo is equally as simple. There is a complex level of mythology and meaning behind such a tattoo, and if you take the meaning of your tattoos seriously, you will want to be sure this applies to you before choosing a koi tattoo for your body.

The “Basic” Meaning of a Koi Fish Tattoo

Koi fish tattoos generally stand for good fortune and good luck. There was an old fable that stated a koi fish could try to climb up the falls at a specific point on the Yellow River to become a dragon. The koi symbolizes a person’s ability to aspire to be a better, more advanced part of the universe.

The Koi fish tattoo is an ideal tattoo for someone who wants to express their levels of strength and perseverance through the trials and tribulations of life. If you are a courageous person that has high expectations for your life and high goals for success and happiness, the koi fish is the symbol of everything for which you stand.

There are different meanings for koi fish tattoos that are less common in color (not your typical orange-gold koi fish), as well as alternate meanings for fish that are swimming in different directions. Those meanings we will address a little further down in the text.

The whole story behind the koi fish tattoo symbolism

The story detailing the advancement of the koi fish has been around for generations and generations of Japanese culture. The koi in the story was said to have climbed a waterfall, regardless of the heavy current trying to keep it down in the pool below. The koi battled with great perseverance to reach the top of the falls, because it wanted so badly to achieve what it had gone there to do.

The koi fish was very brave and did in fact make it to the top. The Chinese version of the story takes it a little further. In their version of the folklore tale, the koi swam the whole of the Yellow River, despite the rapid current and made it through the Dragon Gate. Upon completing this dangerous endeavor, the koi was turned into a magnificent dragon. It was allowed to evolve into a more advanced, more vibrant creature due to his extreme perseverance and determination.

Modern situations that cause people to get koi fish tattoos

Because of these stories, the koi tattoo has become the modern day symbol for those who have made it through tough times.

Many people who have overcome large obstacles in their lives such as the ending of a bad relationship or persevering through a horrible drug addiction back to a happier state of sobriety will choose the Koi fish as the symbol of their bravery and good luck.

There are stories of individuals who bravely fought and survived bouts with cancer and other life threatening diseases choosing the koi fish as their personal symbol once they beat their disease and successfully went into remission.

Even those who have just had an extremely hard life but made it through to easier, more stable times can find solace in the beautiful, gleaming koi fish. Each of these stories has one major thing in common- the people who have lived to tell have each battled with themselves and sometimes others, and have come out on top, no matter how hard they had to fight to survive. They had the determination to get to a better place than they were at the start. That is exactly what the koi fish did in the old fables, which makes the koi fish tattoo the ideal symbol for the bravery and determination of these souls.

The deeper meanings of different coloured Koi tattoos

Red Koi: Tattoos with koi fish that are black in colour generally stand for some sort of love, but one of a strong, masculine nature. Red is a very energetic colour, so it is no surprise that the red koi fish tattoo is the strongest of the new, contemporary, different coloured koi fish tattoos.

Black Koi: Tattoos with koi that are black usually stand for overcoming change successfully. If you have fought a great deal of pain and adversity to get to the powerful place you are now, the black koi fish is a great symbol for you.

Blue Koi: Tattoos that display blue fish are also known to be a masculine symbol, but can also be a basic symbol of reproduction.

Which way is the koi fish swimming? It is said that if the koi fish is swimming “up” the part of the body it has been placed on, the person who dons the tattoo may be trying to overcome some sort of personal hardship. If the koi fish tattoo is swimming “down” the body, the tattooed individual has possibly persevered and overcome the problem they were facing.

Choosing a Koi Fish Tattoo for your next piece of body art

If you are a brave person that has overcome struggle and hardship, or you are desperately trying to; the koi fish might be the best tattoo for you! If you believe in the symbolism and reminders that tattoos can give, marking yourself with such a brave and delightful fish can do nothing but bring you good luck and good fortune with all of life’s endeavours, easy or complicated.