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Chinese Paintings Carp Meanings

If one desires an advantage in business or academic life one may contemplate the traditional symbolic meaning of the Carp. The Chinese character for Carp is phonetically identical (apart from a difference in tone) to the character for "advantage", and the character for "fish" is the same as that for "abundance" and "wealth".

In ancient China the Carp was a symbol of endurance, perseverance and fortitude and was associated with the god of literature. It is said that the Carp can jump completely over the rapids of the Yellow River leaving the other fish behind it. Traditionally this has been associated with the businessman getting ahead of his competitors or by scholars gaining higher examination scores than their peers. For this reason Chinese paintings of carp are very popular.

Fish are a symbol of water, fertility and regeneration and are sometimes used as a charm to avert evil. As fish are happy in their own element they have come to signify harmony and marital bliss. Fish are said to swim in pairs emblematic of the joys of union, generally taken to be sexual union. Because of this the brides family at a Chinese wedding will often give gifts that display ornamental designs of Carp.

In Buddhism the fish symbolises freedom from all restraints: As in the water a fish moves easily in any direction, so in the Buddha-state the fully-emancipated knows no restraint or obstruction.

Chinese Carp, according to ancient belief could transform themselves into dragons upon reaching 100 years old.



View our collection of Chinese Carp Paintings here
or individual carp paintings by clicking on a link below.