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ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY
ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

Feng Shui

Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and space in an environment to achieve harmony and balance in a way that will bring peace and prosperity.

Grades

5 - 8

Subjects

Religion, Social Studies, Storytelling

Image

Feng Shui Room

Feng Shui was originally practiced in China but is slowly being used with more frequency in western cultures as well.

Photograph by ChandlerPhoto

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and space in an environment to achieve harmony and balance. Feng shui means “the way of wind and water.” It has roots in early Taoism but is still popular today, having spread throughout China and even to Western cultures.

Feng shui stems from the Taoist belief in chi, or the life force that inhabits everything. Chi is made up of yin and yang elements. These are opposing but complementary forces that cannot be separated. Taoists believed that by balancing yin and yang elements, people can improve the flow of positive chi in their lives and keep the negative chi away. Feng shui is a method of balancing yin and yang, and improving the flow of chi by arranging furniture, decorations, buildings, and even whole cities in a beneficial way. The ancient Chinese people believed that arranging things to create positive chi would ensure good health, improve interpersonal relationships, and bring luck and prosperity.

Though little is known about the origins of feng shui, there is evidence that the Chinese have been designing their homes and towns using its principles for over four thousand years. Some early examples of feng shui can be found in the placement of ancient Chinese grave sites—areas where bringing positive chi was very important. In modern times, people all over the world use feng shui rules to decorate their homes. Many feng shui rules are about what items to place near or far away from doors and windows, because chi can enter and leave through those openings. The easiest way to change feng shui in a room is to add or move one of the five elements, which are water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. All materials can be classified as one of these five types. According to practitioners, mixing, combining, or subtracting these items can quickly improve the flow of positive chi.

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Director
Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
Author
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Specialist, Content Production
Clint Parks
Producer
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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