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Goldfish adorn tide of history

Updated: 2023-09-08 08:07 ( CHINA DAILY )
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More than 10 different types and 800 individual goldfish from all over China have been gathered for an exhibition at the Prince Kung's Palace in Beijing. The exhibition will run through Sunday. XU HAOYU/CHINA DAILY

Goldfish are known for their graceful forms, vibrant colors and diverse varieties.

However, it's rarely known that goldfish originated from wild crucian carp with genetic mutations from Jiaxing city, in what's now Zhejiang province, during the early Song Dynasty (960-1279). A local official named Ding Yanzan discovered golden crucian carp in a pond northwest of Jiaxing city. He named this location the Goldfish Pond and built a house to breed them, which later became a local point of interest.

Due to the significant costs associated with building fishponds, keeping goldfish was initially a luxurious activity exclusive to wealthy nobles and officials. It later gained widespread popularity among scholars and the literati.

"Goldfish were recognized as a symbol of elegance from the time they entered the imperial palace. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, goldfish were transported along the Grand Canal to reach Beijing, destined for the imperial palace. Traces of the tenancy of goldfish can be found in the history of the Forbidden City, particularly in the Yanxi Palace," says He Chuan, a researcher at the Beijing fisheries technology extension center of the Beijing Bureau of Agricultural and Rural Affairs.

According to historical records, there were as many as 279 varieties of goldfish there during the Qing Dynasty.

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