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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Carp is one of the most famous and known artworks in Japan. A lot of Asians are aware of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and carp painting as well as the entire artwork that it has inspired the people. Many people have come across the popular fish but are not aware of its meaning and history behind the artwork.

A carp is a freshwater fish that can be traced in many parts of the world. It is also known as ‘Koi’ in Japan. There are a lot of carp species around the world which are both domesticated and wild species. The common koi that is found in Japanese and Chinese paintings is believed to have come from China and later brought to Japan.

Pictures and paintings of Koi fish have been created by photographers and artist around the world. One of the artists who inspired art In Japan is called Katsushika Hokusai. He made koi painting showing all the incredible details in his drawing. Japanese believe the word carp represents good fortune and luck. Also, koi is another word meaning love. In the painting, the fish was seen swimming downstream.

It showed the fish swimming in its natural environment. A lot of these drawings were inspired by Chinese carps painting. Also, the panting has strong Buddhist beliefs. It is believed that carp fish swimming in the ocean is a symbol swimming through problems. The artist used techniques such as woodcut block, and the color techniques were called Nishiki-e.

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist, printmaker and a painter of the Edo times. He was mostly influenced by Sesshu Toyo and Chinese paintings. The artist was born in Edo now known as Tokyo. He is a famous author of Thirty- six views of Mount Fuji and woodblock series. He created Thirty-six views as a way of boosting travel and also as a personal obsession with Mt Fuji. Hokusai date of birth is not well known but is stated as October 31, 1760, in Edo. He was called at least 30 names in his lifetime. His name changes were related to the evolution of his art style and production.