Feng Shui for homes and small businesses

The Chinese have had a tremendously long and rich cultural history. Thousands of years ago the Chinese had already discovered how to cure illnesses through the prescription of herbs, how to eliminate pain through acupuncture and how to detect and utilise the energy of the earth to benefit mankind.The energy of the natural forces of the earth can be detected through scientific and intuitive means, through the tangible and the intangible.

About 1,600 years ago the Chinese had already determined that there were invisible forces beneath the earth. (These were later confirmed to be the magnetic forces of the earth). The Chinese also believed that the forces were positive (yang) and negative (yin) and invented a magnetic compass called a luopan to measure them.

To the Chinese, there are energy lines or qi locations in the human body as well as in the earth. They believe there must be perfect balance of the positive and negative aspects of this energy in the human body, for perfect health, and in the earth, for the production of vibrant qi, or cosmic breath.

The body produces vitality, energy and balance of mind and body. Qi in the earth produces growth, regenerating spirit and harmony of natural forces. It is qi that enables people to perform feats of martial art and it is qi that promotes growth on the earth. Feng shui is the art of detecting this qi in a room, building or on any given site.

Although some of us do not ponder the totality of the universe, the solar system or the forces of the earth, we do concern ourselves with the tangible forces that affect our built environments. Our environment not only affects our physical well-being, it influences our sense of comfort and peace of mind. For instance, an extremely congested space makes the dweller uncomfortable and confused. And an awkward form or structure creates a sense of imbalance.

The colour, lighting and finishing of an interior also influence mood and well-being . When a room is painted in a warm colour, the user literally feels warmer. When lighting is subtly and appropriately designed, the user feels at ease and does not suffer from glare. When the interior finishes of a building are well applied, the users can feel the texture and pattern created.

Interior designers use textile, pattern, colour and light to give space its form and character, while geomancers attempt to balance the elements to give space qi and vitality. And geomancers focus on the detection of qi for placement of interior elements and furniture.

Introduction to Feng Shui

Feng Shui is the art of placement of things, ranging from the orientation of buildings to the furnishing of interiors, to influence the qi or cosmic breath of a site. Feng shui helps man utilise the earth’s natural forces and balance yin and yang to achieve good qi, which renders health and vitality. Very often, good feng shui is achieved through the combination of common sense and good taste in the conception of space, placement of furniture and best use of structure. Excellent living conditions contribute to good health, which often leads to success and prosperity.

Feng shui is also known as Chinese geomancy. Many ancient cities were geomantically planned within the qi or dragon energy of the mountain ranges. For example, Louyang, once the cultural heart and capital of ancient China, was believed to be within the beneficial qi of the Kunlun Shan, a mountain range, and was sustained by the balance of the yin and yang forces.

The capita of the Ming period, Yan Shan was situated in the midstream of the qi of Kunlun. Tai Shan the “azure dragon” was on the left; Hua Shan the “white tiger” was on the right and Song Shan formed the protective mountain ranges at the back.

In fact, the imperial cities and palaces of China were planned in accordance with the precepts of feng shui. For example, the Forbidden City built by the Ming emperor and rebuilt by the Qing ruler was very much based on geomantic principles. The palace was symmetrical with north/south orientation, and the main gate facing south. A south orientation was preferable because the wind from Mongolia carried a great deal of yellow dust and was terribly cold. People avoided placing windows on the north, and such practice became common. Even now, many Beijing houses do not have windows or other openings on the north.

The entire Forbidden City was enclosed by a moat so that water flowed past the main gate and entrance. This was done because, to the Chinese, water symbolises wealth. (Water flowing past the main door was like receiving wealth). In addition, the Tai He Dian, Zhong He Dian, Bao He Dian and the rest of the palaces were given “backing” by a hill which was manmade for good feng shui. Backing in this context means protection, especially against wind and cold.

The Tai He Men, or door to the first palace, was purposely placed in front of the Golden Water Stream. The gate had nine colonnades (nine symbolises longevity) and the entire palace complex was decorated in auspicious colours and motifs. Dragons (yang symbols), pearls (yin symbols) quadrupeds and flowers were made and placed on the roofs and walls as symbols of good fortune and success.

The entire setting and planning of the Summer Palace was also based on feng shui precepts. The palace was built overlooking the Kun Ming Lake on a slope with the hills in the north as backing.

Although feng shui was “invented” in China almost 3,000 years ago, it spread to japan and other southeastern regions more than a thousand years ago. In fact, Nara and Kyoto became capitals because of the good feng shui of the sites. Many Chinese and other Asians applied and still apply the art of feng shui to the interior and exteriors of buildings to achieve harmony and balance.

Geomancers advocate that everything in nature has life and animistic characteristics similar to the shape or type of animal resembled. For example, a hill that looks like a tortoise is a good site because people who live on it enjoy longevity just like the tortoise. And a mountain shaped like a dragon renders strength and cosmic breath to the inhabitants of that region.

To the Chinese, everything contains living organisms and everything has a particular environment and condition in which it can best exist. Man is no different from other organism he has an optimal situation in which he can succeed to his fullest capacity. Chinese geomancy is the art of finding and providing such a situation, or living in tune with the natural setting and the energy of the earth, rather than fighting the laws of nature.

Feng Shui in Perspective

As far back as the twelfth century B.C., the Chinese had already established the order of the Five Elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth) which provided their concepts of the world. Everything in the world, they thought, was associated with one of these Five Elements.

By the second century A.D., the Chinese had already noted the principal constellations and the planets. They had also established the revolution of the planets around the sun. A century later martial artists and Taoists developed the art of control of the body energy qi for the performance of supernatural feats. Many Taoists and Confucianists were also well-versed in geography, and were known as Di Li Jia or geographers. They were the first to start the form and compass schools of geomancy, and created the art of living in harmony with the earth and the heavens.

By the eighth century, the first Chinese magnetic compass for seafaring was invented. During the same period, Chinese medicine based on the principles of yin and yang foods was used to treat illnesses. The magnetic compass was incorporated into a diviner’s board and became the luopan which is the geomancers compass. By the ninth century, a compass was made for the sitting of tombs, and in the twelfth century, another plate, the Inner Heaven Plate, was added to the luopan to divinate on the houses of the living.

As you can see, China has had a rich cultural history. The discovery of the art of feng shui, though ancient, can still be used to guide us in building and furniture placement, even though the geography and climate of the part of the world we live in is different from China. Do we still have to orient our window and doors to avoid the north wind blowing from Mongolia ? Must we live near water to the successful ? Moreover, must we hire a geomancers to tell us where and how to live ?

Although some homeowners can afford to pay geomancers for their service,s many cannot or are unable to find suitable feng shui experts to improve their dwellings. Many flat dwellers think they cannot benefit from feng shui because they are unable to shift their front doors or re-orient their dwellings. Some even choose to move to new flats that have better feng shui.

My aim in writing this book is to alleviate the fears shared by many flat and home dwellers, and to encourage them to place the interior elements in their homes according to geomantic principles, despite the fact that structural re-orientation is impossible. Even though flat dwellers cannot control the external environment, they can control the internal usage of space. By locating the qi in their flats, and placing important activities in the qi areas, anyone can benefit from the revitalising breath of the earth.

The Belief in Feng Shui

The Chinese have based their practice of medicine, their art of cooking, theory, of martial art, and practice of feng shui on the yin and yang philosophy. Even the words feng, which means wind, and shui which means water are derived from the trigrams of yang and yin.

For thousands of years the Chinese have based their divination of the future on the working of the Yi-Yang, the planetary movement, and the magnetism of the earth in relation to the horoscopes and the natural forces of yin and yang. The practice of Chinese medicine and acupuncture is based on the balance of yin and yang energy within the human body. Should an internal organ be suffering from the imbalance of yin and yang, the acupuncturist inserts a needle at the appropriate point in the body to revitalise the energy points and achieve balance.

Chinese food is also classified under yin and yang. A persons should east a balanced amount of yin (cooling food and yang ( heaty) food. Should there be too much yin, a yang herb should be eaten to give balance ( and vice versa) or the person might fall sick.

Many forms of martial art are also founded on the yin-yang theory. Tai ji and wu ji, for example, are based on the action of balancing on either the yin (left) or the yang (right ) foot. This belief in the idea of balance has survived for thousand of years.

The Influence of feng Shui

Feng Shui has also survived the test of time. It has exerted its influence on numerous people and puzzled countless architects, interior designers and developers. In Singapore, many hotels and high-rise developments have been designed according to the advice of local geomancers, as well as those from Hong Kong and Taiwan. In general, geomancers do extremely well in business. Managers of the well-known Hyatt Hotel in Singapore are reputed to have employed the services of a famous geomancers for the alteration of the doors, fountains and the information counter. After the alterations, business improved.

Some practising architects have encountered clients who insist on altering building plans for better feng shui. Sometimes, construction is held at a standstill so the main door and ridge beam can be installed at just the right moment (according to the geomancers calculations and the year of birth of the owner). Business managers often consult geomancers for the Placement of their work-tables and sofas. And geomancers are often employed to measure work-tables to make sure they are of a lucky dimension. Should the measurement by unlucky, the geomancer will alter the size of the piece. Housewives also consult geomancers for the placement of their beds- for good luck and to ensure conception of desirable children.

Experiments to study the way qi flows through the front door of a house were carried out. Using a small tank filled with water and an electric motor, waves were simulated to observe  the flow of qi in different situations. It was  concluded that :

  • best enters the house through the main door when there is no obstruction in front of the openings of a house ;
  • obstruction such as lamp posts placed in front of the main door can disrupt the entry of qi into the house and create imbalance.
  • when thee is an obstruction on one side of the house, the ill effects can be lessened by placing another on the other side to achieve balance;
  • and the orientation of the main door affects the entry of qi into the house.

The conclusions can be illustrated by the true story of a rich Hong Kong businessman who built a mansion facing the sea for his family. In all respects the mansion was luxurious, but somehow the family members suffered from bad luck. Within a few years the children died from illnesses. The wife too was seriously ill and the businessman lost money in his buildings ventures.

He finally engaged a geomancer to assess the feng shui of the house, but he could find nothing wrong. A few months later the businessman’s wife passed away. Again, he sought the advice of geomancers but none wife passed away. Again he sought the advice of geomancers but none could help him. Finally, a geomancer recommended by a friend offered his services. The businessman insisted that he stay in the house for a week. Each day, the geomancer studied the house, but he too could find nothing wrong.

On the last day of his stay, the geomancer got up very early and carefully examined the surrounding environment of the house. The tide was low and to the geomancers surprise he saw a rock in the sea facing the house. The rock was shaped like a huge frog with its mouth wide open. The geomancer reported his finding to the businessman who insisted that the rock be destroyed. Unfortunately no matter how hard they tried, the workmen could not blow up the rock. Eventually, the businessman also became ill, but managed to recover after moving from the house, which it appears was left vacant for years,

Other reports on the influence of feng shui are widespread. For instance in 1982 the New Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur reported that the main gate of a certain television station was barred because employees believed the pathway to have bad feng shui and preferred to use the side entrance. And when a leading bank in the city moved its headquarters, a geomancer was hired to advise on the position and placement of the stone lions.

In Hong Kong a London-trained senior architect in the Public Works Department claimed that six new towns in the New Territories – housing 1.8 million people – were designed according to feng shui principles. In 1981, a news report mentioned that Hong Kong’s colonial masters had spent more than HK $ 1.5 million for a geomancers to relocate ancestral graves. And when a 1985 edition of The Star reported that a mentally ill man in Kowloon killed four children and injured 30 at a kindergarten, a feng shui master said it was due to an industrial chimney directly opposite the kindergarten. The chimney, he said, looked like the incense sticks burned at funerals.

The architect of the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong decided to consult a geomancer regarding the plans of the hotel before it opened in 1982. As a result a glass wall 12 metres high was built to give the nine dragons access to the harbour. It is said that even the management of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation consulted a geomancer before plans were drawn for a new bank.

Again in Kuala Lumpur, feng shui was considered when many of the shopping complexes were built. The Sungai Wang Plaza for instance, was built on a hill and its entrance was placed to avoid facing the road. The MAS headquarters, Promet Tower and the MUI Plaza were placed in such a way that there was harmony and neutrality among the buildings in that area.

Despite the expertise and reliability of many feng shui experts, it is not advisable to blindly rely on feng shui to remedy all bad situations. For example, I was told that a man went through years of frustration because his geomancer advised him that he would enjoy rapid promotion if he drove up steps every evening on his return from work. (In Chinese, going “up the steps” is analogous for getting promoted). It turns out that the man did not get the promotion he wished, but had to spend a great deal of money in the frequency replacement of his tyres.

In another strange case, a man slept with a mirror under a cushion because his geomancer told him it would make him more intelligent. All the man learned, it seems, was that sleeping on a mirror gave him a stiff neck !

It should also be mentioned that different geomancers have different approaches to geomancy, and that not all approaches can improve feng shui. In fact, the most important factor lies in the moral character of the person seeking advice. If he is evil or immoral, his good feng shui will not last.

Geomancy, Siting and Buildings

Before the homeowner or flat dweller can begin to apply feng shui principles to his or her interior environment, it is necessary to become familiar with the geomantic theory of the outside environment. Although it is still possible to benefit from the revitalising breath of qi without altering the external environment, it is important to understand the totality of geomantic theory, and to see the consistency between the principles of feng shui in and outside the home

In general, there are several rules of thumb that the geomancer uses to intuitively assess the feng shui of a site. Some of the rules are as follows :

  • a building constructed on elevated ground, facing a slow moving river or serene lake is well-located and should benefit from cosmic qi.
  • a house facing a vacant lot on the south is good geomantically because in China, during the summer the south winds are refreshing and bring good ventilation or cosmic breath.
  • on the contrary, a house facing northeast is not good because the northerly winds bring yellow dust from Mongolia.
  • the front portion of a building or a town should be lower than the back. The front should face a valley, sea or lower ground, and the back should face a hill, mountain or higher ground so that the structure or town has ample protection and captures cosmic breath. A plot of land with a fairly good view in front and slightly elevated ground at the back is considered fairly good.
  • the site must have fairly clean top-soil and drainage must be efficient.
  • trees should be planted to make the site pleasant, to give it a sense of privacy, and to act as a buffer against noise from the main road. Too many trees can block the much-needed sunlight from the interior of the house, and disrupt the flow of qi.
  • a house at the end of a cul-de-sac or blind alley is not well-located geomantically because there is too much sha qi or very vibrant qi coming from the main road and hitting the building. If the front door faces the road the situation is even worse.
  • similarly a house facing a T-junction or a Y-junction is badly affected by sha qi.

In Southeast Asia there are numerous examples of Chinese temples constructed under the influence of geomancy. In 1852 for instance, Wak Hai Cheng Bio (Yue Hai Cheng Miao), a Chinese temple on Philip Street in Singapore was designed with reference to its surrounding high and low ground and nearby water courses. The Guan Yin Tang temple at Telok Blangah Drive in Singapore is an excellent example of a Chinese temple with good feng shui. Built in 1886, the temple is situated on high ground overlooking the sea, and benefitting from the yang of the lower vacant ground in front. It is protected on the sides and at the back by hilly ground, and is in accordance with the Chinese saying “zuo shan wang hai” or “sitting on the hill overlooking the sea.”

And Ji Lea Si in Penang is built on a hill that looks like a flying stork, which is associated with longevity. The site is nearly perfect geomantically because the Dragon Hill is on the left, and the White Elephant Hill on the right. Similarly, San Bao Dong in Ipoh sits on a site that has an entrance like the head of a dragon and an airwell at the rear that resembles the tail of a dragon.

Feng Shui and the Exterior of Buildings

Buildings should be designed with both environmental and feng shui principles in mind. When a building is designed without proper protection, rain will penetrate the interior and dampness will spoil the internal finishes. if the roof is not designed at the appropriate angle, rain water will seep in. It is not surprising that the Chinese have always designed their buildings to withstand heavy rain and wind. Their roof overhangs are built very large to protect the walls of the buildings from rain, wind and the summer sun.

Buildings in the tropics should be oriented in such a way that they benefit from cross breezes, so the interiors are cool and comfortable. In China, buildings are oriented facing south to capture the sunshine and to avoid the cold north wind that carries the yellow dust from the Mongolian border. In Singapore it is best to orient a building north/south because of the path of the sun. However, some may prefer to place their buildings according to their horoscopes.

The layout of the buildings should also be in harmony with the surrounding, environment and in balance with the neighbouring blocks. For example, a row of shophouses should be designed so that one shop does not stand out in terms of height or width. If this happens, the one in disharmony will not have good feng shui.

It is also very important to place the building in the qi area of the site and, if possible, to design it in the shape of an auspicious symbol. Some geometric shapes are good only for large buildings or organisations. Round shapes are best placed next to the sea because they are associated with the water element.

If the exterior or interior of a private house is modelled on these shapes it may be affected by sha qi or imbalanced qi because geomancers believe that the natural forces (like wind) produce disturbing or turbulent energy and pressure on the sides of the geometric shape. A small house may not be able to overcome the sha qi of the forces the way a multi-storey structure can.

The Tong Shu or Chinese almanac should be consulted for an auspicious date to complete the building of a city or house. The date for the official opening of a business establishment has to be chosen by a geomancer so the horoscope of the managing director and the chosen time do not clash.

It is not wise to ignore architectural and environmental principles for the sake of feng shui. Very often, good feng shui is synonymous with good architecture, and vice versa. Sometimes, however, neither good architecture nor good feng shui can help a person’s luck. The Chinese believe that our lives are predestined, and that we have certain lucky and unlucky spells. During our lucky spells, poor feng shui cannot affect us, but during our unlucky periods, very poor feng shui can make out situations even worse. When a person’s luck good the Chinese say his sha qi is strong and able to overcome sha qi from poor feng shui and bad environmental influences. IN fact, the ancient Chinese saying, “Yi ming, er yun, san feng shui, si de, wu du shu” means “the most important factors influencing a person’s life are fate first, luck second, feng shui third, virtue fourth, and education fifth.”

The Methods of Assessing Feng Shui

There are basically two methods of assessing the feng shui of a site or an interior: the intuitive or from school method and the compass method. The former is based on the physical features or topographical characteristics of the land, while the latter is a more technical approach based on the luopan. Presently, geomancers tend to combine the two methods, although they consider the intuitive assessment of prime importance.

The intuitive or form school of geomancy stipulates that land should be undulating, with twists, turns and hills, because this indicates the dragon’s qi or energy, and means the land is teeming with life. The Chinese regard a mountain or hill as a dragon because of the qi it holds. For example, Kowloon is considered good because it is built on a range of eight hills.

There are two theories on how Kowloon, which actually means nine dragons, got its name. One source says that people began calling the island Jiu Long because they counted a young emperor who used to live there as the ninth dragon. Another myth says that Kowloon was so named because of the suicide of the last Song ruler. It appears that after the Mongolian forces had invaded the Song Kingdom, the emperor was asked to locate a site with nine dragons to rebuild his kingdom. After some difficulty, he arrived at Kowloon, but to his disappointment he saw only eight hills ( or eight dragons). In despair he jumped into the sea, not realising that he could have counted himself as the ninth dragon. So Kowloon, it is aid, was named to commemorate his death.

According to the intuitive school of geomancy, besides undulating surfaces, good geomantic land must have fertile soil of many colours ranging from red to yellowish . It must also be protected by high hills at the back, and the hills must have smooth ridge profiles. Hills with pointed or sharp ridges are unlucky. The earth and sand of the site must be of good quality, and the site must be in a certain relationship to water courses or the sea.

An excellent example of good geomantic land is the burial ground of Chinese Nationalist leader Sun Yat Sen’s ancestors in Hong Kong; it is on a hill, embraced by high ground and facing the sea. (Constructing buildings on high ground is not exclusively a Chinese practice. It is done by Greeks, Romans, and other Europeans. Even villagers in Indonesia construct their chieftain’s house on the highest ground so it is nearer to the lowest tier of heaven).

The Luopan

For the compass method of geomantic assessment, a luopan is used to determine the flow of qi and the orientation of buildings, rooms and furniture. There are many types of luopan. Some are very simple and consist of only a few rings with a magnetised needle in the centre. Some are more complicated and contain 36 rings. The luopan is circular (symbolising heaven), made of wood (which may be lacquered or finished in metal), and set into a square board (symbolising earth).

The various rings are designed according to directional and cosmological systems. The inner ring is used to detect and evaluate water courses. The third ring gives the direction and cardinal points, and the fourth is based on the Le Shu, which describes the nine rooms once used by the emperor during the different seasons of the year . Rings beyond this point describe the names of spirits. Ring seven, for instance, describes the 24 shan while ring eight is used as a simple method of divination based on the changes in the positions of stars in every 20-year cycle of time. (This method, called San Yuan Di Li is often used in addition to the intuitive and compass methods to detect the qi of a site or room).

In using the luopan to determine the feng shui of a site or interior, the first step is to establish the north point. In a house which has been occupied for some time, it is rather difficult to establish the magnetic north because the interior may be cluttered with all kinds of metallic articles which can affect the needle. In this situation, the geomancer often goes outside the house, preferably on surrounding empty land, to establish the north point. In places where houses are packed very closely together, the geomancer may determine the north point through mathematical calculations based on the angle of the sun.

When the geomancer is able to use his luopan indoors, he keeps at least one metre from reinforced concrete columns or beams to avoid deflection. He holds the compass level with the floor and faces the direction being assessed, turning the luopan wheel until the magnetic needle of the compass overlaps the red line beneath the needle. He only reads the compass when the needle is stable.

In addition to the luopan, the geomancer’s ruler is used to measure the length, breadth and height of building interiors and furnishings.

Good dimensions include :

  • 0 to 5 3/8 centimeters
  • 16 1/8 to 26 7/8 cm
  • 37 5/8 to 48 3/8 cm
  • multiples of 43 cm (e.g. 4300 or 4343) or multiples of 43 cm added to any of the above measurements.

Bad dimensions include :

  • 5 3/8 to 16 1/8 cm
  • 26 7/8 to 37 5/8 cm
  • multiples of 43 cm added to the above measurements

The compass method of determining the geomantic quality of a site is also based on the working of the Yi-Jing and the Eight Trigrams, as well as the luopan. For interior design, the luopan is sued in conjunction with the San Yuan mentioned earlier, and the Le Shu, which is based on the movement of the planetary system.

  • Orientation is also considered very important when assessing a site or building. Geomancers use the accompanying charts, which relate orientation to year of birth, to place the main door of a house and the beds of the occupants. As you can see orientation for males is different from that for females.

To use the chart, first find your date of birth and trace your finger to the top of the column to find your orientation. For example, if you are a man born in 1949, your orientation is northwest. Therefore, your front door should be placed northwest.

This also means that the important areas of the house (e.g. the bedrooms and living rooms) should be placed with reference to the recommended orientation, and the unimportant areas ( the kitchen and toilets) should be located away from the recommended orientation. The geomancer considers the bedroom, living room, dining room and storage (or safe) as areas that can benefit from the qi of the earth. (Geomancers believe that qi, in fact, centres in the dining areas). The toilets and kitchen cannot benefit from qi, and if wrongly placed, may exert si qi or dead qi, and affect the feng shui of the entire house.

No matter what your orientation, toilets and kitchens should not be placed in the north because traditionally, the Chinese have reserved the north for the masters and the south for the servants. Since the northeast and southwest directions have been called the gui men ( or doors of the devil), geomancers always place the toilets, kitchen and staircases away from those directions. Many houses in Beijing were designed this way.

Although many geomancers decide the orientation of the front door using the chart above, other geomancers use the time of birth rather than the year of birth as a reference

Animal symbol related
to time of birth                                    Hour of birth                                Orientation

Dragon                                                7 am – 9 am                                       ESE
Snake                                                  9 am – 11 am                                      SSE
Horse                                                  11 am – 1 pm                                      S
Sheep                                                  1 pm – 3 pm                                       SSW
Monkey                                              3 pm – 5 pm                                       WSW
Cock                                                   5 pm – 7 pm                                        W
Dog                                                     7 pm – 9 pm                                        WNW
Pig                                                       9 pm – 11 pm                                      NNW
Rat                                                      11 pm – 1 am                                       N
Ox                                                       1 am – 3 am                                         NNE
Tiger                                                   3 am – 5 am                                         ENE
Rabbit                                                 5 am – 7 am                                         E

People who were born in the time of the dragon (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.), for example, should place their front door towards east-southeast.

Qi Locations Until 2043

Qi is as vital to the body as it is to a house or site because it represents energy and growth. Without qi, the land cannot sustain life and without qi a person will die. In addition, there is sheng qi and si qi: sheng qi is alive and generates energy; si qi is dead and stops growth. Where thee is balance of the positive (yang) and negative (yin) forces, there is sheng qi; where there is imbalance there is si qi.

When people work and sleep in areas where there is an abundance of sheng qi, they are driven, energetic and innovative. Because of their enterprising attitudes and hard work they make a success out of everything they do, and are therefore more fortunate than others. Good feng shui does not guarantee that money drops from the sky or gold creeps under the door into the safe. Good feng shui provides the opportunity for a person to benefit from revitalising qi and make use of its energy to fulfill goals. In doing so, the person enjoys health and success.

The diagrams on the following pages, derived from the Le Shu theory of geomancy, outline plans of flats and houses and indicate qi locations from now to 2003, from 2004 to 2023, and from 2024 to 2043 which is the last year in a 60-year cycle. (After 2043, the qi locations will change again). They are based on the Le Shu principle that there is qi in every room, building and site, and that within every flat or house, there are areas where qi is more vibrant than others. Even an area that is not vibrant with qi has some qi, and it is important to utilise it by placing the writing desk, bed or stove in its path.

Some people think that those who live in houses are more fortunate because they have more control over their environment and can alter it to suit their preferences and horoscopes. They can incorporate features to achieve balance of yin and yang, and they can make use of building form, space, structure, colour and other architectural elements to make their environment comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Moreover, they have the opportunity to place their front door, master bedroom, living room and kitchen in the good qi areas.

I believe that people who live in high-rise flats are just as fortunate even though they may have fewer options and more restrictions regarding the sitting of their flats and the locations of their front doors and bedrooms. They can still make the most of their situations by using the diagrams in this chapter to locate the qi areas, and by placing the important activities in those areas. Even a room with little sheng qi can be compensated for by good interior decoration and good sense of space and colour. It is important to realise that all feng shui defects can be rectified, and that all imbalances can be balanced.

The Le Shu Grid

How do we find the qi within any given room? Many geomancers draw the Le Shu grid on a plan of a proposed site, building or interior. The le Shu grid is a simple drawings of nine squares. In the diagrams that follow, the grid has been drawn on different sites according to their relationship with the north point. To locate the qi on a proposed site, within a building or within a room, find the diagram that is closest in orientations to what you are analysing. As you can see, the qi in some orientations changes every 20 years, while in others it remains consistent for a complete cycle of 60 years.

If you are building on a vacant piece of land, you can use the diagrams to place your proposed buildings on the qi area of the site. If you are analysing a proposed building, you can place your front door or master bedroom in the qi area indicated. And, if you are analysing an interior, use these diagrams to place your important furniture and activities in the qi areas.

The diagrams can also be used in conjunction with the year of birth chart in Chapter Four. The Le Shu grid tells you the location of the qi, while the year of birth chart provides favourable orientations for your front door and bed.

With the Le Shu grid and the orientation chart, you can make the best use of your interior space in the geomantic sense. Admittedly, there are best cases where the grid and orientation charts do not apply. For example a person born in 1940 or at 10 p.m. may wish to orient his front door northwest, but by doing so, his door faces a hill. In this case, it may not be advisable to orient the front door northwest because the qi will be blocked by the hill, and the feng shui of the house will be spoilt.

The apartment at right, for instance, is oriented off north/south, with the main door facing off south. The Le Shu grid has bene drawn on the plan to reveal the qi locations (which have bene shaded red). As you can see the qi is strong front door and in some areas of the living room and master bedroom.

Geomancy and Interior Elements

Building elements affect the internal environment and feng shui of a home or flat. The shape of a structure, for instance, can affect the space of the room and the flow of qi. Doors and windows admit qi and ventilation which sustain life. Passages and staircases carry qi from one space to another from the lower level to the upper level and vice versa. It is important to design an interior to maximise the flow of qi.

Doors and Windows :  The main door of a home or apartment is of vital importance because it breathes qi into the interior. If the main door is not oriented correctly, it can emit si qi or dead qi.

The gate front door and back door should not be in line with one another or the luck of the home will be short-lived. According to the geomancer qi travels from the front door to the back door in a straight line. If all the doors are in alignment, the qi becomes too vibrant. To retain the qi and make it less vibrant, a screen should be placed behind the front door or in front of the back door. Some geomancers hang a chime in the doorway to dispel the sha qi while others place a flute over the doors because in Cantonese, the word flute sounds like the word for disappear. Symbolically then, the flute makes the sha qi disappear.

The entrance hall should be located with reference to the qi of the interior space and in harmony with the horoscopic symbol of the owner of the property. The walls of the entry should not be too dark or too narrow or they will oppress the qi coming from the main door. And, psychologically, it is more pleasant to enter a home through a well-lit, well-proportioned doorway.

Windows should be located to capture fresh air and qi, and to shield the inhabitants from direct glare and heat.

Rooms : Even the shape or structure of a room has a significant effect on the feng shui of a house. Square, rectangular, and neat room shapes encourage the flow of qi, while irregular shapes suppress qi.

Walls, Ceilings, and Structural Beams and Columns

To the geomancer, walls have substantial influence on the feng shui of a house, apartment, or even a city. For example, the walls surrounding the Forbidden City give a sense of security to the inhabitants and act as defensive elements, demarking boundaries and keeping evil spirits and earthly enemies from disturbing the people.

In Interior spaces, walls and synonymous with the protective mountain ranges of a good feng shui site. Occupants should sit with their backs to solid walls to shield them from “danger” and so they can look out the window and capture a good view (especially of the sea, because water symbolises luck).

Solid walls are sometimes sued to block off sha qi, and to deter the flow of qi. Houses in China are often planned so that the walls at the entrance deflects evil influences . On the other hand, walls must not block the flow of good qi from one space to another.

Before the walls, ceilings and floor elements are incorporated into the plan of a room, it is wise to measure their height, breath and width to ensure that they are of good geomantic dimensions.

Although it is normal practice to design rooms for the purpose of a certain activity, changes in family, ways of living and in the location of qi during the family cycle may require structural alterations. It may be advisable therefore to design an interior so it is versatile enough to meet these changes. Some geomancers recommend that internal partitions be demountable and erectable so the interior space can be rearranged as desired.

In terms of ceilings, geomancers believe that beams and rafters should neither be exposed nor built over a sleeping area. Sloping ceilings are also unlucky because they oppress or deter the flow of qi. If a beam looks oppressive, hang a chime on it to break the sha qi.

Structural columns should be placed at the four corners of the room or within the walls to prevent the disruption of qi. If there is an exposed column within an interior, it creates sha qi or an imbalance of qi, so a person should not sit with his back to it. By putting a solid wall between the column and the person, the wall will block the unbalanced qi and provide protection.

Staircases : The staircases and connecting corridors are important elements in the layout of an interior. To the geomancer, a staircase that fronts the main door and runs in a straight flight from one floor to another is a source of sha qi. It is also not wise to place the staircase at the centre of the house

Feng Shui Room by Room

Architects design buildings to ensure that circulation is efficient, that interior spaces are dynamic, that structural elements are supportive, that rooms relate will to one another, and that the structures serves the purpose of the user. Geomancers also try to achieve the architect goals in the design of a good feng shui building. In addition the geomancer locates the qi, places the important activities in its path, and makes sure the rooms are placed in harmony with nature and with one another. Within each room, too, certain geomantic principles should be followed.

The Bedroom : Although the placement of the front door and the master’s bed is dependent on the individual horoscope of the user there are some rules-of-thumb that can be applied to all homes and flats.

Bedrooms should be located anywhere off the sitting area or at the upper level. The most important piece of furniture in the bedroom is the bed on which the master of the house spends one-third of his life. It should be placed with reference to the qi of the home and room.

The bed should not be oriented facing a window, especially a west window which admits heat and glare : Even an east window is unfavourable because the users can be disturbed by sunlight and glare in the morning. It is also unlucky to orient the bed towards the door because in ancient China, the dead were placed with their feet towards the front door of the death house. Neither should the bed be placed under a sloping ceiling. Some geomancers believe that beds should never be oriented exactly north, south, east or west, but just off those directions, so as not to conflict with the magnetic pull of the earth.

According to geomancers, it is better to place a bed against a solid wall rather than a glass window because the wall gives backing to the sleeper the way a hill or mountain range protects a house.

The best should not be placed facing a mirror. The Chinese believe that the soul leaves the body when a person sleeps. If there is a mirror just opposite the bed, the soul may get a shock on seeing its image, and this, in turn, can disturb the spirit of the person. Mirrors can be used in other rooms or narrow corridors however, to give the illusion of spaciousness and to deflect and stimulate the flow of qi.

The dressing table in a bedroom should not be placed opposite a window because glare will be reflected in the glass or mirror. And, furniture placed outside the door of a bedroom should not be arranged in the shape of a bow which points into the room. If this happens, the health of the person using the bedroom may be affected.

The Kitchen : The yin-yang theory of balance should be applied to the design of a kitchen. The sink or refrigerator should not be next to the stove, or there could be a conflict between the water (yin) and fire (yang) elements.

The stove should be placed according to the horoscope of the homeowner, but generally, the stove should face south or east because it belongs to the fire element. IN any case, it should not be placed in a dead corner where there is insufficient lighting and ventilation. The kitchen should not be in front of or next to a toilet because the geomancer believes the two rooms are incompatible.

Kitchens of coffee houses and restaurants should not be placed in the south or east because the kitchen belongs to the fire element and will clash with the fire element in the east and melt the fold element in the south (This could mean that the restaurant owner will not be successful. )

Most geomancers do not like to place the kitchen in the north, northeast, or northwest. They consider the north direction as the door to the spiritual way, the northeast as the door to evil, and the northwest as impractical (possibly the wind from Mongolia brought yellow dust to the northern parts of China).

The Living Room : The Chinese believe it is not good feng shui to arrange the lounge seats in the living room so they resemble a bow or a triangle and point at the bedroom. Symbolically, the bow can shoot an arrow at the person sleeping in the bed. It is also unfavourable to place the master’s chair facing a large door or window, because when he reads, he will suffer from glare. To the geomancer, glare is sha qi.

The Dining Room : According to the Chinese, the dining table should be round and because the circle symbolises heavenly blessings. (A square symbolises earth, which is inferior to heaven). The table should be placed under balanced lighting in the centre of the room so the diners can benefit from good ventilation.

Dining chairs must be in pairs of four, six or eight because the Chinese believe that luck comes in even numbers and that a single number represents loneliness.

The Study : The shape and placement of furniture in the study area is important. The master’s and children’s study table should be rectangular, and placed in the qi area (according to the Le Shu grid and the horoscopes of the users). They should be placed against a solid wall for backing, with the window preferably at the left, to provide a view and adequate ventilation. The size of the writing desk should be in accordance with the auspicious measurements of the geomancer’s ruler.

The Bathroom : In general, bathrooms should be placed away from the kitchen and the main entrance or they can pollute or disturb the flow of qi in the house. The geomancer regards the toilet as a poor feng shui element and says it should not be placed in the following positions according to these horoscopic symbols :

Horoscopic sign of the head of the household                  Position of toilet

Rat                                                                                                 N
Ox                                                                                                  N
Tiger                                                                                             N
Rabbit                                                                                           E
Dragon                                                                                         SE
Snake                                                                                            SE
Horse                                                                                            S
Goat                                                                                              S
Monkey                                                                                       SW
Rooster                                                                                        W
Dog                                                                                              NW
Pig                                                                                                NW

Feng Shui, Interior Decor and Symbolism

An interior designer is concerned with space, light, and, colour in the creation of an atmosphere appropriate for dining, sleeping, and working. A feng shui expert is concerned with the placement of furniture and the location of qi, which can enhance the potential of the occupants. These seemingly dissimilar areas of expertise area, in fact, closely linked. Good feng shui is synonymous with good ventilation, appropriate lighting, good proportion, and most importantly a sense of balance. And good interior design enhances the feng shui of a room, shop or office.

The architectural features of a room, including structural walls, ceiling and floor elements, and windows and doors, affect the flow of qi in a house or apartment. And, lighting and colour certainly play a role in the quality of qi in a room. A room with a few furnishing but a balanced and tranquil layout may have a vibrant flow of qi that can be rejuvenating and health preserving. Very often, good feng shui is both good architecture and good interior design.

Qi, the vital force and breath of life, animates all things, but it should be complemented by good design elements to reach its potential. Although each home has a unique feng shui situation and interior style, there are some basic design concepts that should be applied to all interiors to create a comfortable environment and make maximum use of invisible revitalising forces.

In general, a house or apartment should have a functional plan with good circulation and an interesting spatial concept. It should be aesthetically pleasing, with a good sense of proportion and an appropriate colour scheme. The building should be well-protected from weather, and radiation from the sun should be minimalised. Ventilation is also very important. Qi should flow through the body the way fresh air flows through the house; and si qi is synonymous with stagnant, damp air.

Furniture

Furniture should be placed in the qi areas, within the path of fresh air, and under adequate lighting. It should be harmonious with the other interior elements and arranged in a balanced manner. (Much of the theory of feng shui you will recall is based on the yin-yang principle of balance and harmony) .

The Chinese, who are fond of the language of symbols, often furnish their homes symbolically. They’ll have a chair in the shape of a tortoise, which represents longevity, or a round dining table, which symbolises heavenly blessings.

Furniture design has always been a concern of the Chinese, even thousands of years ago. The emperors in ancient times spent fortunes on the interior decoration and furnishing of their imperial palaces. Dragons, phoenixes and many good luck symbols were intricately carved into screens and various pieces of furniture to promote good feng shui. The chairs, writing desks, beds, couches and stools used by the emperor and his family were designed to render comfort and bring good luck, and placed to capture qi.

The imperial chair, for instance, was designed with a generous backrest, to provide backing and protection, and with the armrests outstretched, like a horseshoe. It was placed in front of a beautifully carved screen inlaid with a favourable symbol. The entire throne rested on a platform so the emperor sat on a higher level than his subjects.

Colour and Lighting

Colour was also important to the ancient Chinese. Yellow was used solely for the imperial household, while green was for the imperial subjects. Red was used to symbolise happiness, fame, glory and luck. It was used in abundance on festival days and on buildings where weddings or other happy occasions were held. Yang Xin Dian, the retirement palace built to commemorate the sixtieth birthday of the Empress Dowager, was painted red, orange, yellow and green, the colour for longevity. And the roof of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, built by the Ming emperor, was circular with blue glazed tiles to please the heavenly gods and imperial ancestors.

Even today, the symbolism, of colour is seriously regarded by geomancers: red stands for auspiciousness; green is longevity; yellow is authority; blue is heavenly blessings; and white is purity.

The colour schemes of wall finishes can make a room warmer or cooler, and can affect the feng shui of the interior. If the user of the space is fire element and the room he works in all day is painted red or another warm colour (also of the fire element), the elements can clash. On the other hand, if the user is of the water element and works in a warm-coloured room, the fire element cools the water element, thus creating a more balanced situation.

Light enables colour and forms to be seen. As with furniture, light and colour should not be a source of imbalance or sha qi. To the geomancers, glare is considered sha qi and an irritation to the users of the space. Direct glare from lamps should be avoided by using appropriate shading devices.

Reflective surfaces are sometimes placed on the walls to add light to a room and to give the illusion of spaciousness. Geomancers use mirrors to deter evil influence and to draw in good qi.

Paintings : The Chinese believe that balance is the essence of good design. Even ornaments, paintings, calligraphy and decorative motifs on the walls of Chinese homes and shops are hung in balanced pairs, because happiness is said to come in two’s . It is common to see the characters (xi xi or “double happiness”) on the prominent wall of a wedding reception.

In the home, the length and width of a pair of painted scrolls hung on a wall should be the same. if works of art are framed, they should be in the auspicious shapes of the fan or circle. The paintings should depict scenic landscapes, plants that symbolise good fortune, or figures of important deities who have the power to control evil spirits.

A good science landscape painting depicts the balance of the yin and yang forces in the natural environment. Solid, rugged rocks and mountain ranges contrast the slow-moving water courses and the white clouds. Paintings of plants and flowers that represent good fortune and endurance (including the bamboo and the chrysanthemum), and legendary figures (like Shen Shu and Yu Lei) are often found on the doors of important buildings and temples to repel evil influences.

Patterns : Patterns on walls, floors and ceilings are also symbolic. For instance, patterns that resemble the tortoise shell represent longevity; clouds symbolise wisdom; coins stand for prosperity; and fish for success. Chinese characters – like (ren, (kou) and (ding), which are favourable symbols for future generations are often incorporated in floor patterns to enhance the feng shui of an interior.

These characters, plants, animals and the auspicious symbols can be used as patterns on furniture and decorative interior elements like carpets, draperies, and tiles to bring good fortune.

Pattern                                                  Significance
elephant                                                    wisdom
pine tree                                                     longevity and endurance
vase                                                            peace
phoenix and dragon                                 perfect balance of yin and yang
fish scale                                                   success
lotus                                                           endurance and uprightness
water ripples                                             wealth and heavenly blessing
clouds                                                        heavenly blessing and wisdom
gold pieces                                                wealth
chilling                                                       wisdom
yin yang (birds)                                        union of man and woman
flowers                                                       wealth
tortoise shell                                             longevity
eight symbols of eight immortals          longevity
gold coins                                                 wealth
bats                                                            luck
cranes                                                        fidelity, honesty and longevity
deer                                                            wealth

Plants and Fish Tanks :  In Chinese dwellings, plants that can survive harsh weather are often placed around the home as symbols of longevity. Chrysanthemum, pines, plums, bamboo and even cactus are more common than roses or other flowers that bloom and die quickly.

People often put fish tanks in their homes to symbolise good fortune . Geomancers believe that fish tanks are especially auspicious if the owner is of the fire element because the fire will be balanced by the water. Geomancers often tell their clients to place a fish tank in their homes or offices to absorb evil influences.

Sculpture : Animals that symbolise strength and power are often sculpted or cast in porcelain or bronze and placed around the house to repel evil spirits. Popular animals taken from nature like the lion, tiger, and elephant, and mythological creatures like the chimera and the unicorn are often used. The dragon, the most powerful of the animal symbols, was often placed around the imperial palaces as a symbol of strength.

Animals like the tortoise that are known to have long lives are used to symbolise longevity. And, sculptures of fish can be found in many homes because the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for success or abundance.

Feng Shui for the Office and Shophouse

There are many similarities between geomantic doctrine for the home and the office. The basic rules of geomancy concerning the surrounding environment, the location of qi, and the orientation of the main doors also apply to offices and shophouses. Some geomancers use the following guidelines when recommending orientation for businesses :

Business/firm/shop                                                        Favourable orientation for the front door
law firm, medical centre,                                                  north or east
shipping firm
accounting firm, finance                                                   northwest or southeast
company, bank, architectural firm
import/export company, trading                                      north or east
company
provision shop, saloon                                                     north or southeast
As with the completion date of a house, the selection of an auspicious date for the official opening of a business must be found in the Tong Shu, the Chinese almanac. The Chinese believe that the Tong Shu, written centuries ago and revised in the early 1900s, was based on information derived from the positions of constellations. The almanac relates the constellations to the horoscopic symbols which are associated with the geomancer’s compass.

The Importance of Addresses

The address number of an office or shophouse is significant in the eyes of the geomancers. The numbers 2,5,6,8,9 and 10 are lucky: 2 means easy, 5 means in harmony with the Five Elements, 6 represents wealth, 8 means becoming rich, 9 is synonymous with longevity, and 10 means sure. Thus, an office address like 289 means “easy to become rich for a long period,” or that the business will prosper for a long time. On the other hand, the number 744 means “sure to die,” or that the business will not succeed. The number 4 is unpopular because in Cantonese it sounds like the word is meaning to die. The number 1 is also not very popular, although it is not necessarily unlucky.

The Chinese always prefer to use numbers in double digits because this represents a duality and, therefore, avoids the feeling of loneliness. Number 3 is not particularly lucky even though it sounds like the word “alive” in Cantonese. Some people do prefer to use it however, as in 7373, which means “sure to live on.”

The Significance of shop Names

The placement and significance of sign boards and the names of shops are important . Sign boards must be installed at an auspicious moment that is in harmony with the horoscope of the shopowner.

The name of the shop should convey good luck, wealth and success. Some of the common names for shops are : Xing Li which means “smooth success,” Fa Da or “prosperity and success,” Guang Li or “great success,” Guang Yi or “great benefit,” and Ji Chang or “good luck”. On the other hand, if the name of the shop means poor luck, the business may not proper. A shop with the name Wu Li or ” no profit” is expected to close down.

Some geomancers use the Five Element precepts to create an appropriate name for a shop. The chart that follows gives some common words and their associations with the Five Elements :

When the Five Elements (and the words that are associated with them) are matched in the following combinations on the signs of shophouses they have both good and bad connotations.

These combinations are favourable :

water + wood                                wood grows with the nourishment of water
wood + fire                                    fire becomes stronger with the addition of wood
fire + earth                                     earth is purified by fire
earth + gold                                   gold is protected by earth
gold + water                                   gold enriches water

These combinations are unfavourable :

water + fire                                   water puts out fire
fire + gold                                     gold is weakened by fire
gold + wood                                 wood is incompatible with gold
wood + earth                                wood can be covered by earth
earth + water                                water is lost in the earth

Some geomacers prefer shop names made up of Chinese characters that have a certain number of strokes. A character made up of an odd number of strokes in yang and a character with an even number of strokes is yin. The character (yi) for example is yang, and is yin. Shop names with characters of odd/even (yang/yin) number sequences are considered favourable as are those with yin/yang, yin/yin/yang, and yin/yang/yang sequences. Unfavourable sequences include : yin/yang/yin and yang/yin/yang.

 Feng Shui and Office Design

Some geomancers think an office at the end of a central corridor is unlucky because the sha qi from the hall can exert an unfavourable influence on the tenants. The doors of an office placed at the dead end of a long hallway should be shifted away from the corridor to avoid sha qi. In some offices, the entrance is shielded by a screen so that sha qi is deflected and cannot flow directly into the interior. This technique is also used in Beijing houses.

The manager’s work-table and the accountant’s safe are the most important office furniture. They should be placed with reference to the horoscope of the managing director. The desk should be of favourable measurements. In some firms, the legs of the desk are screwed into the floor so it cannot be shifted away from the luck.

It is poor feng shui and bad interior design to place the desk facing a window because the glare from outside will stain the eyes. Radiation from the sun may be even intense just next to the window. It is also bad practice to place the manager’s table and chair in front of a large window. On a bright day, the client may have difficulty looking at the manager because of glare, and the manager’s face may be in the shade.

If window curtains are necessary, patterns of bamboo, chrysanthemum and good luck characters should be used. Some geomancers suggest placing pots of bamboo or chrysanthemum, sculptures of horses (symbolising efficiency and vitality) and tortoises ( for longevity) tanks of gold fish, and flutes at strategic office locations to eliminate si qi and enhance sheng qi,.

Office lighting should be evenly distributed to achieve balance and efficiency. Natural ventilation is preferable to air-conditioning because good cross breezes eliminate si qi. Care must be taken to ensure even distribution of air so the office workers do not suffer from cold draughts which can make them ill and disturb the balance of qi.

The interior of an office should be designed or arranged so the manager sits with his back against a solid partition. This provides backing the way a hill protects a house or a mountain range protects a city. Other partitions throughout the office should be well placed so the flow of qi is not disrupted . For instance, a solid partition should not be placed so it disrupts a view of the sea.

According to some geomancers, lifts that rumble and are painted black are not good feng shui. Fountains outside businesses must be placed with reference to the qi orientation and the water should spray at a height which is geomantically favourable.

Garden Geomancy

The philosophy of yin and yang is evident in Chinese garden design. A feeling of balance and continuity is created by the garden walls which link various elements like the rocks, trees, plants and bridges. Square and round openings in the walls symbolise earth and heaven, and the pavilions, bridges and paths are built in accordance with feng shui beliefs.

Bridges and paths in particular are often constructed in zigzag patterns to avoid sha qi and evil influences. This is done because the geomancers believes that good qi travels along meandering lines and sha qi along straight lines. The Chinese believe that roads or rivers that run in straight lines may bring destruction, while meandering lines follow the path of nature, and therefore comply with Taoist philosophy of garden design. (Although the Chinese base their architectural concepts on the Confucian idea of formality and symmetry, they follow Taoist doctrine in the garden).

The pebble mosaics in the Chinese garden are designed to emphasise the alternations and duality of yin and yang. And, statues of symbolic animals such as the tortoise, deer, dragon, lion and crane are often placed at strategic positions to enhance the garden and bring good luck.

The four sides of a garden are associated with four mythical animals : east with the azure dragon; south with the red phoenix, west with the white tiger; and north with the black tortoise. A stream, symbolising wealth, is usually built to the east of the garden, while a manmade lake is ideal on the south end. Meandering paths leading to pavilions are best at the west, and the north should be protected by manmade rockery complete with waterfalls.

In large gardens, pagodas are placed in the northeast, or southwest directions (the doors of the devil) to repel evil influences. In smaller gardens, miniature porcelain pagodas are used and incorporated into the rockeries, and miniature mountains are constructed to act as protective hills.

Pavilions are often constructed in one of the following shapes: the square, which symbolises the earth; a five-sided figure, which is associated with the Five Elements; a six-sided figure, which symbolises wealth; or an eight-side figure, which symbolises prosperity.

If manmade lakes and ponds are used, they should not be constructed in rigid geometric shapes like squares or rectangles. Their banks should be made to look as natural as possible and water lillies should be planted in the water to represent uprightness and to protect the garden against evil influences. Live tortoises and goldfish a should be kept for good luck.

The planting of trees is also carefully considered. Trees that symbolise longevity like the pine, willow, and cypress are often used. In China, Wu Tong trees (aleurites cordata) are often planted in gardens because they do not collapse easily. Flowers, too, should be selected for their longevity. The chrysanthemum, orchid, plum and other enduring plants are suitable.

A Chinese garden is considered beautiful when rough textures contrast with smooth and still rocks balance with flowing streams. For this reason, Yuan Ye, the Chinese garden manual, suggests, that the best site for a garden is on the edge of a lake with a view of the mountains. In such cases, qi is indeed in accordance with the vital spirit of nature.

by Evelyn Pen

© 2012, AIDEC World. All rights reserved.

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