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The Lost Koi

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  • The Lost Koi

    The June issue of Smithsonian has an interesting article on efforts to preserve the Marwari, a rare, ancient breed of horse from India. One observation made:

    "The danger was that ignorance and indiscriminate breeding would lead to the demise of the Marwari as a distinct breed, an all-too-common trend. Worldwide, livestock breeds -- made obsolete by tractors and tanks or replaced by 'super breeds' of industrialized agriculture ... -- are disappearing faster even than wild species. Half the livestock breeds that existed in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century are already extinct, and almost half the remainder are at risk or endangered ...."

    Which has made me think of the varieties of koi which are lost through breeding focused on the show ring. Old versions of Kohaku and Sanke are gone. Kobayashi's gene pool is nowhere pure. What would it take to find a specimen of each sort of Asagi mentioned in pre-War writings?

    Don't get me wrong. All koi varieties are "artificial", and continually breeding to reach a goal is the heart of the hobby & nishikigoi. Still, it would be nice if the koi kichi would allot a space in their ponds for a specimen that teaches the past from its very presence. By preservation of old lines, the special beauty of the most advanced product of the breeding arts may be enhanced to the eye and appreciated on another level.

    I expect that those who might be so inclined would encounter quite a challenge to find such genetic time capsules. The breeders seek a livelihood, not nostalgia. But, somewhere in Niigata, in the infrequently sought ponds of some old men, I think there must be such gems from the past.
  • #2

    I love it when people talk about ASAGI without really mentioning them by name!

    If I were Mr Sakai from Isawa, I would breed my Asagi's to Magoi and then offer them for sale to provide such a service. (gee, a guy can dream can't he?)
    Dick Benbow


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