The south-pointing compass, also called the lo’pan, was first invented by the Chinese to ensure that the burial sites were correctly positioned to conform to the earth’s vital breath, called chi,which the Chinese believed flowed through the earth the way blood flows through the veins of the human body. Ancient texts trace its invention to the legendary Huang-Ti, or the Yellow Emperor, where it is said, that the “Lady of the Nine Heavens” gave him this knowledge. This ancient compass was called the Hin Shi and it is described as a square base, called a diviners board, holding a bowl of water which floated a magnetic south pointing spoon.
The Hin Shi slowly developed into the lo’pan between 200 AD to 700 AD. During the Sang dynasty, the compass was adapted for navigation at sea. By the 13th century, Arab traders brought the compass to the West. The arrival of the compass in Europe couldn’t have come at a better time and was essential for navigating out-of-sight of land. Before this sailors would hug the shore, a dangerous practice but was the only way they had of knowing where they were going.
In Feng Shui, the lo’pan is used to analyze the orientations of a site in relationship to the main door, the bed and the stove. The lo’pan is an intricate circular object of a simple compass surrounded by movable rings encrypted with Chinese characters. There is a maximum of 36 tiers, with each tier having its own purpose for divination. It is then divided into 8 sections, or trigrams. The Eight Trigrams were further developed into 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching with the astrological information of the Ten Heavenly Stems, Twelve Earthly Branches, the Five Elements, geological and celestial bodies.
Selected chinese dynasties with historical Feng Shui implications
|Dates||Dynasty||Traditional Feng Shui history|
|2000-1700 BC||Xia||Selecting Proper Site Divination – Astrology -Auspicious Date to Move.|
|1700-1027 BC||Shang||Oracle bone divination. Writing invented. Sundial used to measure time.|
|1027-771 BC||Western Zhou||The Book of Yi written. Sundial used for time.|
|770-476 BC||Spring and Autumn period||Lao Zi & Confucius born. The book of Yi becomes Yi Jing (I Ching)|
|475-221 BC||Warring States period||Sun Zi & Mencius born. Si Nan (Spoon compass)|
|221-207 BC||Qin||Green Satchel First Feng Shui classic written|
|206 BC-AD 9||Western Han||Kan Yu The way of Heaven and Earth. 24 Seasons recorded. Liu Ren Water compass used for divination. The Name of Five Spirits, Ze Ri Method of Selecting Auspicious DatesTu Zia Method of Selecting Auspicious Houses, Eight Spirits in Heaven, Eight Directions on Earth, Eight Methods of Selecting Living Site, Fen Ye Concept of Examining Celestial Phenomena, to Predict Good Luck or Ill Luck on Earth, Twelve Feudal Lords on Earth, Twelve Celestial Districts in Heaven, The Rise of Concept of Spirits, Good Spirits, Evil Spirits, Selecting living site or burial place, one should consult the Divine.Five Phases Wood Fire Earth Metal Water, Five Directions East South West North Centre, Five Sounds Gong Shang Jue Zi Yu, Five Surnames, Eight Spirits in Heaven, Eight Directions on Earth, Eight Kinds of Residences to Select|
|AD 25-220||Eastern Han|
|AD 265-316||Western Jin||Guo Pu (276-324) – The writer of The Book of Burial “By means of Feng Shui one can prevail over god’s work, change his own fate, and instantly create good fortune and misfortune.”|
|AD 420-588||Southern Dynasties||Qin Nang – Nine volumes of burial books in the Blue Bag, Qin Wu Zi – the name of a Feng Shui practitioner, Qin Wu Shu – Methods of selecting burial site by Qin Wu Zi.|
|AD 589-960||Late Tang and Five Dynasties||Practising the Five Phases Theory became the current fashion. Astrological Copper mirror Found. There were over 120 different schools using Five Phases Theory on selecting burial sites. Theory on selecting burial sites. Books of Five Surname Theory, on selecting living places, on selecting burial sites. Use of Talismans.|
|AD 960-1368||Southern Song – Ming||East/West System. Flying Stars System Three Yuan Nine Yun System – Three Cycles and Nine Fate System. 4 types of compass needle developed, consisting of Fingernail, wet, dry and hanging methods. Seam needle developed. Yuan – Magnetic tortoise compass developed.Plum Flower Method devised by Shao Yong, also square and circular arrangements for 64- Hexagrams.|
|AD 1368-1644||Ming – Qing||Development of compass rings. 2 essential classics on the use of Luo Pan written. Birth of Jiang Da Hong – Flying Star Master.|
|AD 1986||– date||“New age Feng Shui” based on the power of a positive mind further developed by Thomas Lin Yun in California USA. Please note that this system is very different from Traditional Feng Shui and has been the main source of confusion about Feng Shui over recent years.|