Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art that literally translates as “wind water” which involves arranging an environment based on the energy flow called ‘qi’. Qi, also sometimes written as ‘chi’ is a life energy that is thought to be present in all things living and inanimate which must be given balance in any given space, especially in places we spend significant time in.
Believers of feng shui will go to great lengths to arrange their home, business or workplace to conform to the fundamental beliefs of the art. For example, a front door is considered the ‘Mouth of Qi’ and is how the force enters a home. If the qi is blocked at this junction, it can affect how the flow is dispersed around the rooms. Preferably a front door should open into a bright, uncluttered space with no sharp or angular objects. Pathways to a door are also important and should be long and winding to slow down qi to prevent it ‘rushing’ to your door.
Some regard feng shui as a science, while others call it a superstition, but the practice of the art form became a subject of great contention in China in 1949. When the People’s Republic of China was formed, the new government deemed the practice a “social evil” and was strongly discouraged. Incidents were even recorded of feng shui practicing members of the public being beaten by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution set in motion by Mao Zedong.
Although the policy has relaxed over the years, it is still actually illegal to register as a feng shui consultancy business in China today – yet it’s said that around one third of the Chinese population still believe in its virtues – that’s no small number when you consider there’s approximately 1.34 billion people China!
Hongcun is one of the best examples of feng shui being used practically on a mass scale in China. In ancient times the entire village was re-designed by a geomancer in the shape of an ox to aid Hongcun’s irrigation and assist in battling fires that had previously plagued the region. The winding canal network acts as the village’s intestines and its stomach is the Moon Pong lake into which they flow. There are even two large trees located just outside the village that represent the horns of the buffalo.
One high profile case of modern day usage of feng shui came in Hong Kong in 2006 when specialists were consulted during the construction of Hong Kong Disneyland. After consultation, the plans for the angle of the front gate were changed, shifting it by 12 degrees to better conform to feng shui practices…perhaps to appeal more to the park’s target audience.
If you’d like to see feng shui in all its glory, many of Backyard Travel’s tailor-made tours to China include visits to the aforementioned Hongcun, such as our Epic China tour. To make an inquiry about this or any other China tour, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our expert local Travel Specialists who’d be happy to help!