Utsuri Koi (Utsurimono)
There are two interpretations of the Japanese word “utsuri”. Traditionally it meant “reflections” and was used to describe how the sumi pattern was mirrored by the white, red or yellow colors. “Utsuri” can also be interpreted as “to move or shift,” referring to the way in which the sumi of the Utsurimono changes and shifts.
An Utsurimono is an impressive Koi with a white, red, or yellow ground onto which a bold, often continuous sumi pattern is laid. Black, red, and yellow markings, respectively, form Shiro-Utsuri, Hi-Utsuri and Ki-Utsuri. The refined, elegant patterns give Utsurimono an appearance of majesty.
The history of Utsuri Koi
The history of this Koi variety is unclear. It is known that they appeared quite early in the history of Koi, possibly at the beginning of the Meiji era (in about 1875), and were originally known as Kuro-Ki-Han, which translated means black with yellow markings. They were renamed Ki Utsuri in 1920 by Elizaburo Hoshino.
Utsuri Koi Colors
Utsuri Koi have striking, heavy sumi, which should be jet black in color and of uniform shade. The second, and contrasting, color of any Utsuri should emphasize the sumi pattern.
In the older style of Shiro-Utsuri, the sumi pattern copies that of the Showa to create an impression of the sumi bursting open to reveal pure, vivid white patterning. Originally the sumi on the body would wrap deeply around from the back onto the abdomen, rising upward from there like mountain peaks (maki-agari). The modern stye shows more white ground with a pattern of more delicate sumi markings. The older style appears imposing and dynamic whereas the new style is elegant and refined.
This variation has a large amount of hi wrapping upward from the abdomen over the black ground color. The hi varies from light red to bright scarlet and must be uniform, reaching the extremities of the body. Colorless scales (koke-suki) in the hi will lower the value of the Koi. Its sumi pattern could be old or modern in style but must be eye-catching. The sumi of Hi-Utsuri tends to lack coherence and distracting jari-zumi. As it is difficult to attain a high gloss in both the yellow and the sumi as well as sharp kiwa, good specimens of Ki-Utsuri are rarely seen.
The sumi pattern required on the head of an Utsuri is the same as that on a Showa; that is, a lightning strike sumi that divides the face, or a V shape. Whereas in Showa the modern V shape is more popular, on the Utsuri the sumi marking that divides the face is favored.
The sumi pattern required on the body is, again, similar to that of the Showa. Large, imposing sumi markings in a reflective pattern (black reflecting white) are preferred to a smaller checkered pattern. If the pattern is highly reflective, it is often described as ’flowery.’
The sumi on an Utsuri should wrap around the body below the lateral line, (while on a Bekko the sumi pattern remains above the lateral line). The sumi markings should extend from the nose to the tail and be balanced down the length of the body and on both sides of the dorsal line of the Utsuri.
The sumi is vital when appreciating the Utsurimon variety.
Utsuri Koi Fins should have sumi in the pectoral joints. The striped fins of Bekko are not favored on Utsuri.
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