Saturday, March 3, 2012

The legend of the Koi Dragons

It makes sense now!

Last fall, my mom, brother, and I went to the Rebelution conference. I bought some of their t-shirts, and really liked the design that has fish on it. I thought it was odd, though. What do fish have to do with the Rebelution?

I found out in the most unexpected place: at my chiropractors'. I was wearing the fish-shirt last time I went to my appointment, and Dr. C noticed that the fish were koi (Japanese for "carp"), and asked me if I knew the Chinese legend about the koi dragons.

I didn't, so he proceeded to tell me. After which, I proceeded to write it down in my trusty notebook.

From what he said and from what I have read in an internet-search on the legend, I have dug up a very interesting ancient Chinese legend.

According to the different versions of the legend (there are three, I believe), the koi swim up the Yellow River. They do that in real life. Some say that when they reach the mouth of that river, they, due to their strength and perseverance, are turned into dragons.
The other version says that the few koi that are strong and brave enough to succeed in climbing the falls at the Dragon's Gate (along the Yellow River) are turned into dragons.
Both times it is as a reward for their perseverance and courage.
Another version says it swims up to the gate of heaven, is turned into a dragon, and flies away.
It symbolizes something relatively weak becoming something strong, and of perseverance.

In the world of tattoo artistry, koi dragons are popular tattoos, usually symbolizing that the person getting the tattoo has gone through, or is going through, a major change in life: a death, a divorce, difficult circumstances, and coming out stronger because of it.

Red koi tattoos represent love, exuberance, and "manly deeds".

The blue koi tattoos are associated with male dominance and reproduction.

Black koi tattoos symbolize victory after a major change, or fighting against the harshness the world sometimes brings into life and the feeling of victory after standing strong beneath said harshness.

Now you might be wondering why I am even writing about this.

Well, because it is interesting. And because I realized it fits part of my character, Erin Wolfe's, life perfectly!

Erin is/was (depending on what part of her story) a member of the Dragon Scourge Division, an elite military force, akin to our Navy Seals and Army Rangers. Originally, I had a plain Chinese dragon be their symbol, and all of the members--after completing their training--get the symbol and the words "Dragon Scourge" tattooed onto them in Chinese.
Since the Inter-Continental Communist Confederacy started out with China taking over Asia and half of the U.S., Chinese influence is very, very strong and Chinese is one of the two official languages. So a Chinese dragon made sense.

But a koi dragon makes even more sense.
The DSD takes promising, yet ordinary, soldiers and turns them into the best of the best. Transforms them into the elite, high-profile, dauntless, ruthless fighting force that is feared the globe over.
Taking a Chinese legend and tying it to a futuristic story is, in my opinion, so neat! It's perfect. Having the symbol rooted in the legend will hopefully make it all seem very authentic and real.

Now I just need to either find a koi dragon design that I like, draw one myself, or ask someone to draw it for me.

Meaning of this post: Ancient China has cool legends. And you never know where you will learn a useful tidbit that meshes perfectly with your book.

- Hannah

Image Credits:
Koi Dragon


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Chazak Amats, and have a beautiful day.