China 800 CE

Immediately following the domestication of the goldfish during the Sung dynasty, around 800 CE can be thought of as a significant time in which goldfish affected culture.  Before this time carp were just used for food.  The introduction of breeding goldfish provided something more than just a hobby in which a small part of the population partook, everyone was affected eventually.  Yellow was the imperial color in ancient China and this applied to the goldfish.  Only the imperial family could keep yellow goldfish [1].  Goldfish became art and affected the culture just as a popular new medium of art would. There have been writings recovered from tenth century monasteries that discuss the feeding and care of pet goldfish (Tuan  1984, pp 95-100).  Monks weren’t the only fans of this new phenomenon.  Chinese emperor’s not only keep and adore goldfish, they make a point to hand feed their pets daily (Tuan 1984, pp 95-100).  The goldfish’s place among the emperor’s and monks of ancient China truly expresses its importance and impact on human culture in the area.  Being able to obtain and maintain certain breeds of fish became an art that all could enjoy and attempt after time. 

Imperial wealth became associated with the goldfish as it soon became a symbol for gold and prosperity [6].

Chinese Animal Symbol of the Goldfish

Chinese Symbol for Goldfish


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