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Thread: tancho

  1. #1
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    tancho

    In Today's release of the koi E-mag called "hotspot", bencher's rules were discussed about what constitutes admittance into this class. Since not everyone gets this I thought maybe we could encourage JR to have some comments on the topic.......

  2. #2
    Daihonmei
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    Good morning Dick,

    One would think that Tancho is an easy variety to breed, being an all white fish with a red spot on the head. And if one steps back and looks at the forest thru the trees, Tancho is easy to judge--- as long as you know the following;

    1) What a Tancho is as a variety
    2) What the artistic concept of Tancho is
    3) What the quality traits in Tancho are

    In addition to these insights we need to understand grades of koi and rarity of genetic traits.


    So lets 'unwind' what Winston Churchill, if he had been a koi keeper, might have called “A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery inside an Enigma" that is Tancho.

    Tancho is, in the ideal, a simple white fish with a red spot on its head. But it is o so much more important in Asian/Japanese culture! Not 'our' Tancho koi mind you, but the bird it is named after. The Tancho crane is really the equivalent, in National terms, to the Bald eagle of America, as it’s symbolism is embedded deep in the culture.
    Tancho is many things to the Japanese culture. A long life, for one. Cranes can live 60 years. And in ancient china and Japan when the Tancho was a mystical focus, man only lived 30 years. The bird is also a symbol of fidelity as cranes mate for life. And as if that was not enough, the birds display a fascinating dance during the mating season and for territorial display that fascinated the early Japanese as a thing of beauty and grace. Not surprising that this bird, with the distinct red mark on the head, is considered a National treasure in Japan.
    Immortality, beauty, good fortune, fidelity, fertility and grace—and our koi are named after this bird!

    But after the history review and mythology link, the Tancho is a simple fish until you look for the perfect one! The body is pure white which gives an almost naked effect. And that naked effect intensifies the human eye onto the red spot. This becomes a VERY critical review!

    Reading other pieces and opinions on what a Tancho is and isn’t reminds me that there is a learning curve in understanding Tancho. And levels, if you will, of understanding of Tancho- which is really to say, we need to understand Nishikigoi as a group concept to really grasp what a good Tancho is and why.

    So on a very basic level a Tancho is an all white fish with a SINGLE red spot on it’s head. And the point orientated judge will deduct points from the fish based on how well placed and round the spot is on the fish’s head. But this is rudimental thinking in that there is no one ‘spot’ standard as that would remove the artistic element to judging. And that is the flaw in old style judging. Put another way, when a variety is elusive in what makes it good, better, best, the beginner judge will revert to the negative and begin to deduct points based on what is wrong as opposed to seeing what is right. And tancho is one of these moments of truth.

    Now that I’ve taken a historical and fundamental approach to Tancho lets get down to it.

    Tancho should have pure white skin. Meaning, no blemishes and fades yellow marking and NO red on the body other than the tancho mark. If it does have any red on the body, it is no longer a Tancho – it is Maruten. Maruten being a fish with a body pattern ( any body pattern no matter of what size or location) and a red spot on the head as a separate step in the overall beni pattern.
    The issue of the red spot coming into the body does not make the fish maruten! As the red ranging from the head onto the body is still part of the single Tancho spot, simply too large and as such, is a demerit. A fairly serious demerit but not a call for rebenching/ renaming or reclassifying. Where as, a single red spot at the tail takes a wantabe tancho out entirely as a representation of the variety.

    A few comments about tancho shape--- Tancho shape does not have to be round. It is nice if it is round as that is an impressive look on the right shaped head. But based on the overall fish and its personal characteristics, a chevron shape or rounded edge ‘square’ might be nicer. In terms of size, too much beginner’s enthusiasm wish for tanchos to be of a circle to be a proportion/ratio or dimension to the head. No such thing! The MOST important thing is that the size fits the head! And as koi is LIVING art, size and shape is also a thing of age appropriateness. A thin young male tosai looks best with the classic small spot in the center of the male's head. The massive yonsai female of a full body and large broad head looks great when the tancho is on the large side and maybe even more oval or square-ish. This is concept of Jitai in Nishikigoi study and one best illustrated with the study of Tancho. In short this concept dictates that body type and skin type ( characteristics that create white translucent skin) work with pattern for a perfect specimen.And it all beings with the skin grade.
    And this leads us to quality. Quality is an element of grade. Grade being a measurement of the level of the element of quality.
    And quality or grade issues are demonstrated in Tancho in several ways;

    1) the shape of the body, bone structure and fins.
    2) the type or grade of skin
    3) the thickness of beni in the tancho which is to say within the head’s dermal layer.
    4) the type of beni plate as a genetic level of expression of a pattern mutation.

    Most of the readers will have a good impression/ vision of the first two points. But points 3 and 4 are difficult for most western eyes.
    A breeder will always look to the thickness of a pattern, including tancho, to determine if the fish is of a good grade of quality or not. In the koi contest, not so much. The beginner judge is simply looking for a round spot in the center of the head even when it is faded or weak. This begins at some point to make for a bad decision.
    Since the tancho is on the head ( an area of thin dermis) it is often difficult to get a thick expression of pattern. And one might be fooled by the fact that color looks deeper on the head than the body ( an illusion that you see in all kohaku when young and still unfinished). But kiwa is kiwa and that is what is to be judged.
    As four point #4, a tancho mark is really a genetic pattern. But one that has been perfected somewhat thru selective breeding. Still, if you look at a raw spawn you will find natural tanchos. I ‘say’ natural but really they are a mutation of a gene that also gives us all other kohaku patterns- including two steps and three steps. So tancho is reoccurring and culled for. The ‘good ones’ show the ideal based on that genetic reoccurring mutation pattern. . We want a tancho that is of a quality of beni and suggests a strong genetic expression of a very specific piebald gene. And that piebald gene expression is the POINT of the entire variety.


    And finally there is the issue of man made making of round tancho patterns. I’ll point out that tancho crane does not have a true circle as the head is elongated. Nature can give the individual koi a nice round tancho but it is one in many. Carving a circle in the head of a koi born with a random blob of red is common, unfortunately and makes the super round pattern rather common. So we should not give awards to fish with clear scalpel scars or specks of red growing back since the ‘winter work’. That is not a natural mutation. That is fraud.
    JR






  3. #3
    Sansai sundan's Avatar
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    I had the good luck of a pair of tancho cranes visiting my mud ponds. thanks JR, good info. Those cranes are welcome here, they only eat bugs, its their cousins, the blue heron crane that is unwelcome. Of all the different koi looks, I believe the tancho showa is my favorite.

  4. #4
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Great post, JR.

    Going back to Dick's question, though, I'm hoping you'll elaborate a bit on:

    * Why for competitive reasons tancho was removed from the Kohaku class and given it's own class?
    * Why for competitiive reasons tancho sanke and tancho showa were likewise removed from their full-patterned varietal classes?
    * How well they compete against each other within their tancho class?
    * And, finally, why is it that 'tancho' goshiki and 'tancho' ochiba (for example) are generally not benched in the tancho class (like their gosanke cousins are)?

    Thanks, Don

  5. #5
    Daihonmei
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    well here I go again-- we have to get a perspective on how koi evolved and what they are today to understand how things became what they are today.
    As you know, koi represent a race of common carp formed around some key color and then pattern mutations.
    The most accomplished of all in way of number of mutations on one individual are the gosanke.
    The second thing we need to know is that koi varieties were created in a systematic way. For instance in the case of Hariwake types, there is the basic form of metallic ogon crossed to another ogon type. Then in the same group these types are crossed with every other variety in existance in order to get all those varieties in metallic form.
    In the case of kohaku, tancho can't compete with stepped patterned kohaku just as aka beni and shiro muji can't compete with kohaku even though they are have many of the same genetic traits ( but not pattern). This is difficult for hobbyists to get their heads around sometimes as if you are without the evolutionary information, it seems all o so arbitrary. But it isn't.
    Tancho is a patterned fish but not a patterned fish capable of competing with a full patterned fish. It is genetically less complicated when compared to say a san dan. So it will always loose.
    Placed in its own classification and mystique ( as a tancho symbol) it becomes a unique form. But it's piebald pattern is actually common compared to the refined patterns of kohaku (a much more difficult piebald combination).
    When put up against one another, the 'other tancho' types can be at a disadvantage as they have MORE color pattern elements to deliver compared to tancho. And ironically they 'struggle' well against one another with a fine tancho often besting a busy unfinished tancho showa. But when a tancho showa is right and finished it has a real advantge and begins to make the standard tancho look unimpressive and somewhat lacking just the way the kohaku's do.
    In the case of all other tanchos, there is a divided school of thought. Some want all tancho competing against each other. This is a very myopic focus on the tancho spot IMHO! The other school of thought, one I subscribe to, says the tancho is just one element of the fish and although it is a Tancho division, we can't ignore all the other elements. And the truth is, a normal tancho is still going to have translucent gosanke skin and that will ALWAYS win over a karawi goi's skin ( because it also usually means thicker and more complex beni color). In effect when the whole fish is taken into account those of a non white based skin of selective beeding and refinement will come in last every time over a single , albeit important feature like a very round circular spot. JR

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I keep looking, but have never found the female Tancho I will spend enough to acquire. Seems the few that have the body and marking that appeal to my eye are just too costly or are male. ...fear of shimmies is a dread as well. Perhaps a Tancho Showa or Tancho Sanke will come to reside in my pond some day, but it is the Tancho I want. Nice to have something special on a wish list, I guess.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei
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    Maybe something like this?

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    Here's a pretty nice example of the 'naked truth'.

  9. #9
    Daihonmei
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    Can any tell what the main demerit to this otherwise exceptional tancho sanke is?

  10. #10
    Tategoi moikoi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Can any tell what the main demerit to this otherwise exceptional tancho sanke is?
    a man made tancho? beni above eye and near tail?

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