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The Lotus the Carp and the Dragon
The transformation from lotus to Koi to Dragon is the subject of this traditional Japanese design
Lotus Tattoos have been popular for centuries
The lotus, as a tattoo design, is simple yet elegant and remains as popular, today, as it has been throughout its very long history. In ancient Japan it was believed that the Lotus Gave birth to the Magnificent Koi Carp that populate the beautiful waterways featured in Japanese Art and revered by the Shinto religion.
The lotus is emblematic of serenity and beauty. Yogis meditate in 'lotus position'. Lotus are often placed either side of the Buddha's statue during Buddhist meditation. It is a symbol of earthly perfection. Not surprisingly this attractive symbol is often used as a tattoo.
The Carp or 'Koi' is a central image of 'Bushido' the rigid 'Samurai' code of of Japanese tradition, These ancient warriors revered the carp because of its courage. It appeared to them as if the fish when caught went to it's death on the chopping board with a stoical indifference. They often had huge embodiments of the koi tattooed onto their bodies. This form of 'talismanic magic' is common to many warrior traditions and is the foundation of more than one tattoo tradition.
Waterfalls have always been a part of Japanese myth. Meditation beneath the pounding waters is supposed to strengthen and purify a warriors spirit. There are many beautiful waterfalls in Japan and artists have featured them in their work for centuries. Koi were said to swim upstream throughout their long life and their destination was believed to be these waterfalls
In the Shinto religion accents in nature such as waterfalls are regarded as shrines
When a Koi succeeded in reaching the top of a waterfall it would be transformed into a dragon. This metaphysical view of the life-cycle of these three beautiful and fortunate symbols has spawned one of the most dramatic and beautiful tattoo designs ever created
In Japan, as in most of the Orient, dragons are regarded as creatures of great power and magic. Here their similarity to their western counterparts ends. In the East dragons are symbols of wisdom and good fortune. Not the sly and greedy destroyers of western tales.