Feng shui literally means “wind and water”. It is a study of man’s position in the environment, combining various disciplines such as astrology, geography, ecology, psychology, architecture and aesthetics. Singapore has an active community of professional geomancers who practise feng shui.1
The history of feng shui is rooted in the Shang dynasty (1751 BCE–1111 BCE). The reigning Emperor Pan was known to have moved his capital to another location with good feng shui. However, it was during the Tang dynasty (618 CE–907 CE) when feng shui was imparted to many people. They were formally taught by Yang Yun Song, who was a famous feng shui master and was fondly known as the Saviour of the Poor.2
The fundamentals of feng shui lie in the chi or energy that begins from the wind and ends in the water. This energy is felt and translated as being positive or negative in nature. Ideally, an excellent feng shui denotes the harmonious co-existence of humans with the forces of nature.3 There are two categories of feng shui: form (luan tou) and compass (li qi). The former takes into consideration the physical environment while the latter includes calculations of formula, time frame segregation and a geomancy compass.4
The master practitioner or geomancer has to have an intuitive feel of the space in question. Capable of sensing positive or negative influences, he or she then proceeds to correct the negative energy while improving on the positive influences.5 It is for this reason that gold coins, fish tanks and bamboo or metal chimes are often seen in houses.6 Ardent believers also believe in relocating their furniture and fixtures, occasionally making minor structural changes such as shifting the position of the front door, so as to quell the bad feng shui and attract the good one.7
The influence of feng shui has gone beyond Asian cultures and permeated the Western world, one example being Trump International Hotel in New York City after it was remodelled in 1997. An increasing number of architects and home designers are integrating this age-old intuitive art with contemporary themes in their work.8
Feng shui masters have differing opinions on Singapore’s feng shui, including “land of pearl” and “land of the prosperous dragon”. The former is drawn from an analysis of Singapore’s position in the region while the latter is drawn from the analysis of the entire land formation of the island.9 Feng shui has influenced the blueprint of some of the island’s major architectural structures, such as the layout and design of Suntec City.10
Renuka M. & Rakunathan Narayanan
1. Noble, S. (1994). Feng shui in Singapore. Singapore: Graham Brash, pp. 2—3. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 NOB)
2. Yap, L. (2000). Fengshui: 101 questions and answers. Singapore: Raffles, pp. 9–10. (Call no.: RSING 133.3337 YAP)
3. Yap, L. (2000). Fengshui: 101 questions and answers. Singapore: Raffles, p. 3. (Call no.: RSING 133.3337 YAP)
4. Choo, R. (2012). Exploring fengshui landmarks in Singapore. Singapore: Rinchen Books, pp. 13–14. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 CHO)
5. Noble, S. (1994). Feng shui in Singapore. Singapore: Graham Brash, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 NOB)
6. Yap, L. (2000). Fengshui: 101 questions and answers. Singapore: Raffles, pp. 14–15, 27—29. (Call no.: RSING 133.3337 YAP)
7. Noble, S. (1994). Feng shui in Singapore. Singapore: Graham Brash, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 NOB)
8. Craven, J. (2017, February 10). What is feng shui? How does feng shui relate to architecture? Retrieved 2017, June 8 from ThoughtCo. website: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-feng-shui-175949
9. Tan, K. Y. (2001). The secrets of the five dragons: Feng shui and Singapore’s success. Singapore: Times Media, pp. 12—13. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 TAN); Noble, S. (1994). Feng shui in Singapore. Singapore: Graham Brash, p. 65. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 NOB)
10. Choo, R. (2012). Exploring fengshui landmarks in Singapore. Singapore: Rinchen Books, p. 71. (Call no.: RSING 133.333 CHO)
Gwee, P. K. W. (1991). Fengshui: The geomancy and economy of Singapore. Singapore: Shing Lee.
(Call no.: RSING 133.333 GWE)
Lip, E. (1995). The design & feng shui of logos, trademarks & signboards. New York: Prentice Hall; Singapore: Simon & Schuster.
(Call no.: RSING 658.827 LIP)
Tan, K. Y. (2014). Hidden dragons in an urban city: Singapore feng shui insights. Singapore: Way OnNet Group.
(Call no.: RSING 133.333 TAN)
The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.