As you navigate Chinese cultures and societies and learn more about the Chinese traditions and beliefs that guide the Chinese societies, one of the things that will stand out to you is that there seems to be a great deal of symbolism and meaning around fish.
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the symbolism around fish and what fish mean in Chinese cultures. So, let’s get started.
The meaning of fish in Chinese cultures
Fish is believed to symbolize abundance, unity, fidelity, and wealth. Beyond this, the Chinese consider fish to be a symbol of good luck in several ways. For starters, the Chinese pronounce fish in the same way as the word surplus is pronounced, which is in reference to the fact that fish is regarded as a symbol of abundance and wealth.
During the Chinese Spring Festival, for example, fish is often prepared than left uneaten. The reason why this is done is that the uneaten fish is meant to represent the human desire to always have something left over for the next year.
Fish is also seen in carp, which is also known as koi, as is depicted in most Asian Artwork.
There is also the angle of longevity, which comes from the fact that fish is able to grow really old, which means that fish is a great representation of longevity. At the same time, fish is also a representation or a symbol of fidelity and unity, which comes from the fact that fish often swim in pairs. This is also the reason why the fish charms used in jewelry are often in pairs, and they are offered as a wedding gift because the fish pairs represent the perfect union.
The last symbolism associated with fish has to do with fertility. Thanks to the fish’s ability to reproduce quickly and also in large volumes, fish is said to be a powerful symbol of fertility.
According to Feng Shui’s beliefs and traditions, fish, specifically the Goldfish or the koi fish, are believed to represent prosperity and wealth. The reason for this is that the actual word for fish is Pinyin, and it means abundance.
What Is Lucky Fish For Chinese?
The Chinese consider the goldfish their lucky fish. But it’s not just the goldfish that is associated with luck.
One of the most auspicious fish varieties that is associated with luck in the Chinese culture is the Dragonfish, also known as the Arowana. This fish is said to be a powerful fish that has the power to bring to you luck, good fortune, and prosperity. The reason for this is that some Chinese descendants believe in the mythical dragon, and as you may know by now, the dragon is held in high regard in Chinese culture. The gold and red color in the Arowana variety of goldfish is highly prized, especially because these colors are traditionally associated with good luck and good fortunes.
It’s also the reason why the arowanas make up between 60 and 70% of the total sales by Qian Hu, who sells ornamental fish in China’s major markets.
There is also the high-grade silver Arowana fish that measures between 15 and 18cm. These are highly valuable fish categories that also bring good luck, which is why this rare variety of fish fetches several tens of thousands of dollars. This type of fish can live for about 25 years, reaching a length of 1meter. The rarity and the longevity of this variety of fish is the reason why the Chinese consider fish a symbol of longevity.
Stingrays are also highly regarded in China, with people believing that the stingray brings good fortune. They believe that the stingray is effective in attracting customers.
The Kao fish, in either red or black, is also a symbol of success and wealth.
Why Are Fish Lucky In China?
Like most Chinese symbols, carps have a legend attached to them. This legend notes that the carp is a brave and strong fish as it swims upwards against the current where it masters falls and eventually ends up at the gate on the Yellow River referred to as the Dragon Gate. The carp then turns up into the Celestial Dragon, which is a revered river as the carp makes its last leap over the last of the rapids. With this school of thought over the fish, the carps were kept in ponds by the Tang Dynasty.
Thanks to genetic mutations, some of the carps in the ponds would have a gold color and not the silver they were known for, and the gold variety of the carps was believed to be the most effective version of the fish, one to bring success and good fortune to the people who owned it.
And between 960 and 1279AD, when the Song Dynasty ruled China, the Empress of the empire, in 1162, ordered the construction of fish ponds that would house the red and gold carp. Interestingly, no one outside the imperial family was allowed to keep the carps or the red or gold goldfishes, especially because the yellow color is considered the imperial color. These rules led to a large number of orange goldfish and fewer red, yellow goldfishes. It wasn’t until 1276 AD when the first fancy-tailed goldfish was actually recorded. This took place during the time of the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China between 1368 and 1644AD.
With the associations between the dragonfish and the carps, along with the fact that the fish bear many inherent qualities that demonstrate their strength and persistence, it makes sense that these fishes are held in high regard and considered to bring a great deal of good luck, prosperity, and great fortune.
So, if you are wondering what the luckiest fish is for the Chinese, the answer is the dragonfish. It is also referred to as the Feng Shui fish, which is a great symbol for the display of dominance, power, and abundance.