Many argue that Feng Shui is not an art, rather it’s a philosophy, but ask a Chinese philosopher, and he’ll tell you that Feng Shui is the art of philosophy. Although, Feng Shui is associated with almost everything in a Chinese household, be it furniture, direction of rooms, placement of toilets, the portion of the house where the garden spance is reserved, the way paintings are arranged or maybe the way or the direction in which you sit and do different tasks i.e. eat, work or sleep.
Yet the underlying philosophy is just one that man and nature are in bond with each other and that mankind is an integral part of universe and man’s fate flows with other elements in the universe. It is in recognition of this fact only that great Chinese philosophers suggest that one should arrange things in their homes according to the rules laid down in Feng Shui, so that they channel the sources of energy to give a greater degree of exuberance.
The main idea behind all these theoretical aspects is to discover a perfect “QI’ or a focal point on the location and time axis, which is optimum for human settlement. The Chinese consider some areas and places unfit for human settlement, and they intend to give due respect to such spots and leave them in their natural state. Feng Shui literally means wind and water and emphasizes the fact that Earth is always changing due to the effects of wind and water and that man should find ways to adapt to this metamorphosis. As an example, it is a well known fact that a house situated toward a foot hill, facing south would receive the maximum sunlight and would be relatively protected from the harmful effects of wind and rain, and still have a good enough rainfall to cultivate crops at an optimum level.
Feng Shui depended heavily upon compasses and other geographical and scientific tools to locate positions for a perfect place to live, eat, exist and even for burial of a body. Some of the most famous tools that are still existent even today include Feng Shui spirals, one of which is places at LA Chinatown’s railway station. Gnomon, an ancient instrument, and probably the earliest, was used to find a 10 degree angle difference between the rising and setting of the Sun. to say in simple words, this instrument was used to discover an optimum place and direction of a house, In order to get the maximum sunlight and minimum wind during the winters and minimum sunlight and maximum wind during the summers.
Although, Feng Shui was essentially a science to make living places better, essentially an architectural science, with time and as the underlying idea of Feng Shui regarding the complete association of mankind with the surrounding started catching ground, this art spread to almost every sphere of interior designing, from furniture, to paintings and even to the dining areas. These and other theories based on numbers and positions are the base theories supporting the philosophy of Feng Shui.
One would have noticed that most Chinese paintings and furniture items depict landscape scenes, with a house or two and a few people in the foreground. The main idea depicted here, more often than not, is that the position and the arrangement of the houses with respect to its surroundings is usually perfect, as per the rules laid down by Feng Shui, and the main purpose for these paintings during the early days of Chinese civilization was to serve as paradigms, or diagrammatic depictions of how things should be.
The principles of Feng Shui depend heavily on numerology. Plants and other symbols associated with Feng Shui are also considered to be of utmost importance in helping to being wealth and prosperity to you. The three legged frog, having a coin in its mouth is a symbol of happiness. The Laughing Buddha perhaps the ‘brand ambassador’ of Feng Shui and this figure also happens to be the most famous and effective of all Feng Shui object till date. Some of the most common advices based on the art of Feng Shui include not sitting with your back towards a book shelf or an open door, it can bring betrayal. A fountain, with water flowing inwards, that is to say, towards you is an auspicious sign; it signifies that wealth will flow ‘into’ you. Make sure the water doesn’t flow outwards, as it may act negatively. Finally, one shall never live close to a swift stream, rather one should live near a lake or a relatively stagnant stream,. As fast flowing fluids signify flow of wealth, and if there is a stagnant water body near the place you live, it means that wealth is there to stay with you!
Some of the most famous theories and practices associated with Feng Shui include Bagua, a philosophy that emphasizes on the fact that human life consists of five phases, Xuan Kong and related theories, which are explanations and theorems depicting relationships of different actions and events with time and space, San he Luan dau, which is a method for finding relationships between mountains and water and their effects on mankind, Ba Zhai, a typical method, also known as the eight mansions method, used to located the perfect “QI”, or spot and several other methods relating space, time, mankind and elements of this Universe and nature to each other.
All has not been a bed of roses for staunch followers and believers of Feng Shui. Since the time of the establishment of Peoples’ Republic of China, Feng Shui has been considered as a ‘superstitious practice’ and something totally unreligious and has at times even been banned totally. During the Cultural Revolution, Feng Shui was one of the “four olds”, which were on the agenda to be wiped out as old and unwanted practice. Some people don’t even consider Feng Shui as a science, primarily because of the reason that it doesn’t showcase consistent methods. But over the past few years, research scholars and scientists have started taking interest in this art and have been performing experiments to establish Feng Shui as a science.
Love for Feng Shui had diminished in China during the 1950’s and 1960’s, but looking at the interest of foreign tourists and scientists in this art, the local people are reviving this lost science on a war time basis for two reasons, one that they love it, and second is that they want to make the most of the present liberalism that China is showing towards foreign investors. The winner in all these petty politics has nevertheless, been Feng Shui, which has survived the brunt of many, but has proven to be nothing less than a miracle for many.