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History of Feng Shui

History of Feng Shui

In prehistoric China, the compass was originally used for

navigation. This navigational compass would be modified later

for use in feng shui.

At the beginning of the Chou dynasty (1122-207 BC),

Emperor Wen first used the pa kua as a tool to describe and

define patterns of change in the natural world. By the eighth

century BC, the Chinese were using the pa kua and the theory of

change to design their cities and feudal landscapes to bring

wealth and peace to a kingdom. 

The study of kan yu became part of the science of Feng Shui

during The Han dynasty (206 BCE-219 CE) Kan means

"mountains"and yu means "low places." Kan yu was the study of

the energy of landforms and how they affect individuals who

live next to these forms. It was during this dynasty that the great

Taoists Huang-shih Kung and Ch'ing Wu, developed the idea

that mountains and rivers are filled with vital nourishing

energy. The pathways of energy in mountains were called

dragon veins, while those in waterways were called water


The ancient Chinese thought the layout of the land could

affect the fate of an entire kingdom. For instance, if the capital

city was built on land that boasted good features such as

mountains and rivers then that country would prosper. If it

were built on land that carried harsh winds or bad magnetic

energy, the country would suffer catastrophes. 

Likewise, if an emperor were buried on or near landforms

with positive energy, his dynasty would last and he would have

many descendants. If he were buried on or near landforms with

negative energy, his dynasty would fall. In fact, kan yu was first

used only by nobility to select burial sites that would ensure the

longevity of their regimes. . It wasn't until hundreds of years

later during the Chin dynasty (265-420 CE) that kan yu was

adopted by ordinary citizens as a way of choosing the best real


The T'ang (618-906 CE) and Sung (960-1279 CE) dynasties

were the golden ages of kan yu. The T'ang dynasty invented a

geomantic compass called the lo-p'an which was a circular

object that contained seventeen rings and twenty four directions

that could be used to determine the most auspicious location for

a dwelling. 

During the Sung dynasty, the Emperor Hsü Jen-wang

expanded the practice of Feng Shui to include the diagnosis of

buildings as well as landforms. He founded the Hsüan-k'ung,

also known as Mysterious Subtleties or Flying Stars system of

Feng Shui. This system utilized information about the direction

a building faces, the year that it was built, and the pa kua to

predict the fortunes of a building's residents. As cities expanded

and more and more houses were built far away from the positive

embrace of natural landscapes the Flying Stars school of Feng

Shui increased in popularity. 

Feng-shui's last phase of development overlapped with the

Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911) and the Republic China period

(1911-1949). Early in the Ch'ing dynasty, a Feng Shui master

named Jo-kuan Tao-jen founded the Pa-chai (Eight Mansions)

School. Applied exclusively to the feng shui of residences, Pachai matches the occupant's guardian star, which is determined

by the year of birth with the direction faced by a dwelling's front

door. During the Republic years, the Hsüan-k'ung school began

to use the principles of Landform Classification, in addition to

the compass and the Flying Stars system, to evaluate the fengshui of a building.

Also during this Feng Shui renaissance the San-yüan school

was developed to study residential and commercial structures as

well. The San-ho school, on the other hand, remained

exclusively devoted to the study of mountains, valleys, and

waterways. Today, the San-yüan, San-ho, Hsüan-k'ung, and Pachai schools remain in practice and are known as the Four Schools of traditional Chinese feng shui.

Today even the most rudimentary forms of Western Feng

Shui incorporate the basics of these four schools. The simplest

way to incorporate the art and science of Feng Shui into your

own life is to use the system that I am presenting in this book

which is based on the nine areas of the Bagua.

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