Asian artists have been carving amazing and beautiful scenes into timeless pieces for centuries.  These carvings depict so many different scenes and tell so many stories.  Many times they feature a different animal, and every animal has its own symbolic meaning in Asian culture.  One of the most popular is the fish.

I have found hundreds of beautiful jade carvings, mammoth ivory netsuke, wood and silver carvings depicting fish. Some feature fish on their own, but most include figures of people.


The carving show people conquering fish or getting assistance from fish. These marine creatures are always somewhat exalted in the carvings. It’s clear from these pieces that the fish has a significance in Asian culture beyond sushi.


What is the symbolic significance of the fish?

The Chinese word for fish is “yu,” which is a homophone for “abundance.” It’s hard to say whether the similarity between the words gave birth to the mythology or whether the mythology resulted in the similarity between the words. Either way, the fish is a symbol of abundance and success.


The carp earns its success

The carp is the most auspicious of the fish. It’s not just known for wealth and abundance, it’s recognized for it tenacity and persistence. It’s a fish that works hard and swims fiercely against currents and bravely jumps waterfalls to achieve its success.


The carp can become a dragon

As legend has it, the carp could leap the falls of the Yellow River at Dragon Gate, and if they reached the other side, they would transform into dragons and fly away. Since dragons are the master of all animals in Chinese culture, the ability to transform into one through sheer will, effort and might, makes the carp an amazing and inspiring symbol.


Capturing the carp’s power

Many of the carvings I have found over the years depict man harnessing the power of the carp, such as this mammoth ivory carving of a fisherman riding a carp. Others include traditional baskets woven from bamboo to trap fish. The fisherman, himself, is a symbolic of seeking success and abundance. That’s a parallel that somehow seems to make sense in any culture.


Beautiful Asian jewelry featuring fish

Asian artists have been carving beautiful stories of fish and fishermen into gorgeous pieces of jade, mammoth ivory, wood and silver for more than 200 years. I travel the globe collecting these pieces and incorporate them into stunning one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. The semiprecious stones I use complement the carvings.

Together, the gems and carvings create amazing conversation pieces. It’s not just a quality piece of jewelry – it’s repurposing a historic and important piece of Asian art so that the story it tells can go on.