To westerners, feng shui is not an easily understood concept. The term literally means wind-water and refers to the qualities of what is known in Chinese culture as “qi” as it interacts with these two elements. Qi can be understood generally to mean life force or energy flow and is a concept common across both western and eastern belief systems. Within the tenets of feng shui, it is said that “Qi rides the wind and scatters, but it is retained when it encounters water.” Feng shui’s general aim is to improve life by adopting aesthetic practices that receive and retain positive qi which provides good fortune.
Many different styles of feng shui are practised but all have the general aim of orienting buildings, both inside and out, in an auspicious manner so as to retain positive qi and thereby improve the life and luck of those who dwell in, near or are involved with the building. Orientation relative to bodies of water, the stars or direction are common consideration when a feng shui master advises on the construction of a building. Large development companies and corporations often spend significant amounts of money on feng shui advisors in the hopes that it will provide them with good fortune in their businesses. In recent years the practice has become more popular in the west, including America.
In China, feng shui as a practice was designated a superstitious social evil after 1949, but has since returned to favour in many ways, although less than a third of the country’s population is said to believe in its merit. The study of feng sui is also considered a general taboo in many areas of China.
Perhaps due to the unique path that Hong Kong has taken relative to the mainland, feng shui remains popular. The Disney Corporation even acknowledged the importance of feng shui by adjusting its main gate to Hong Kong Disneyland by 12 degrees. This effort (among others) was aimed at incorporating local culture into the master plan for the theme park. Hong Kong itself is said to have good feng shui due to the city’s setting with the mountains behind and the water in front. Many of the city’s historic and modern landmarks have feng shui incorporated into their design and you can even take a feng shui tour of downtown Hong Kong.
During the development of Hong Kong, which continues to this day, local elders have resisted certain forms of development because they conflicted with the tenets of feng shui. Whilst in the past these dissenters were treated harshly, today they are compensated with money in order to buy their silence.
Some common feng shui beliefs are:
- Mirrors place in the path of bad feng shui will reflect the bad luck as the demons flee when they see their hideous reflections.
- Adding water in the right way to the design of a building will attract positive qi and provide good fortune.
- The numbers 4 and 13 are considered very unlucky. Drawing a circle around them will contain the negative effects.
- Appropriately placing Foo Dog statues at the entrance to your house will protect it against bad qi.