Chinese History and Feng Shui
Please read the following two statements extracted from a couple of articles on Feng Shui.
“Guo Po, wrote the Book of Burial. He lived during the Jin Dynasty” and “Jiang Da Hong, of Xuan Kong fame, lived during the end of the Ming Dynasty”.
In both the statements above, I believe the writers mentioned the dynastic title to give readers an indication of the time period that the persons lived. Here lies a problem.
It is fine if the reader is well verse with Chinese history and the chronology of the Chinese Dynasties. However if he is not, it is no help.
In this article I will list some of the key events in Feng Shui (including some not), in a chronological order from ancient dynasties to the current Chinese government. I hope it will give you an appreciation of the time period of the many Chinese Dynasties and when some of the significant events in Feng Shui happened in relation to these dynasties.
Let start with Fu Xi. He is a legendary first emperor of China who was credited with the invention of the Trigram and the Early Heaven Ba Gua (in addition to farming and the institution of marriage). He supposedly lived about 2950 year before the Common Era (or Before Christ). Then the Yellow Emperor Huang Ti in 2650 BC discovered the compass. This was even before the Xia Dynasty (2100 - 1600 BE) where the Chinese Solar or Xia Calendar (also known as the Farmer’s Calendar) was devised.
The Xia Dynasty is followed by the Shang Dynasty. After the Shang Dynasty comes the Zhou Dynasty – more specifically the Western Zhou Dynasty between 1100 and 771 BE. It was here that Ji Chang (later known as Emperor Wen) developed the 64 Hexagrams while under house arrest by the Emperor.
The next has nothing to do with Feng Shui but it is such a significant event that is worth mentioning. I am talking about the Qin Dynasty that existed between 221 and 206 BE. Here Emperor Qin Shi Huang was famous for unifying China and extending the Great Wall of China. However he was also responsible for burning books and burying Confucius scholars alive!
This followed by the Han Dynasty (both Eastern and Western) that lasted approx 400 years and followed by the Three Kingdoms (220 – 280 CE) the Jin Dynasty between (265 - 420 CE). Guo Po who wrote the Zhang Shu or Book of Burial lived during the Jin Dynasty between 276 and 324 CE.
Feng Shui flourished during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 CE). Yang Yun Sang perhaps the most famous Feng Shui Master lived during that time (840 – 888 CE). Master Yang wrote many books including the famous “Han Lung Qing”.
After the Tang Dynasty, comes the Five Dynasties (907 – 960 CE). This is followed by the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 CE). The famous Ba Zi master Xu Zi Ping who reformed the traditional Ba Zi system was said to live between the Five Dynasties and Song Dynasty period. This would mean on or around 960 CE. Zi Ping abandoned some of the old techniques and introduced some new ones most notably placing emphasis on the birth day instead of the birth year.
Zi Wei Dou Shu or the Purple Star Astrology was also reputedly devised by Chen Xi Yi who also lived during the Song Dynasty. Shao Yang, who invented Plum Blossom Numerology, also lived during the Song Dynasty.
Jiang Da Hong of Xuan Kong fame lived during the late Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD) and early Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 CE) period. Jiang was famous for writing many classical Feng Shui treatises including the Di Li Bian Zheng (Earth Discern Truth Study). However most of his treatises were written in a poetic style that was difficult to understand.
The authoritative Xie Ji Bian Fang Shu (Treatise on Harmonizing Times and Distinguishing Directions) was commissioned by Emperor Qian Long (1736 – 1796 CE) of the Qing Dynasty.
During the later Qing Dynasty, Imperial Scholar, Zhang Zhong Shan added commentaries to Jiang’s work, making the information on Xuan Kong more accessible. Zhang founded his own school call Wu Chang Pai and the most notable practitioner of the school was Tang Yang Wu. The Qing Dynasty officially ended in 1911. Tan published a few books himself on Xuan Kong that supported many of the theories using his own case studies in the 1920’s.
Worthwhile mentioning is another scholar Shen Zhu Ren who lived in about the same period as Tan. Shen was credited with simplifying Xuan Kong text and making it easy to understand. He also took the unprecedented step of teaching it to anyone who wants to learn it, an unusual practice during his time.
For a more detailed timeline on Chinese Dynasties please visit Chinese History Timeline.