Where do I Place the Altar?

Strictly speaking, the placement of the altar is not within the realms of Feng Shui. However Chinese culture, Feng Shui and the religions that the ancient Chinese practices – namely Taoism and Buddhism are so closely inter-twined that it is difficult to draw the line. Feng Shui consultants that practice in locales with a significant Chinese population are as a norm expected to provide advice on the placement of the altar in the house.

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So where should the altar be? As a best practice the altar should be placed in the living area and either facing the main door or facing the front part of the house. One of the functions of the deities is to “protect” the occupants of the house. Thus it is appropriate to place them in the “entrance” portion of the house.

Can you place the altar in the kitchen or bedroom? The answer is absolutely not unless it is the kitchen god whose rightful position is in the kitchen. But why not? The Buddha, Bodhisattva and Heavenly Deities are of a compassionate nature. One of the precepts is no killing and it is therefore it is incorrect to place them in the kitchen where meat such as pork, beef and chicken are present. Placing them in the bedroom is also not appropriate as it is disrespectful. Imagine running around naked or performing the love act in front of them!

Other than the kitchen and bedroom, other place that are not suitable for the altar include places that are unhygienic or dirty such as the toilet/bath and store room.

The Buddha, Bodhisattva such as Guan Yin and Deities such as Guan Di or Monk Ji Gong are considered to be equal. Your ancestors represented by their ancestor’s tablets are not. Therefore in an altar, your ancestor tablets should be place at a lower level. If you have single level altar, the deities should be raised so that they are higher than the ancestor tablets. A piece or a block of wood would do the job.

For a Feng Shui perspective, what are the things that you should consider when it comes to the placement of the altar?

You can start by looking upwards. The altar should not be placed under a beam or under the stairs. There should not be a toilet upstairs either. Neither should the altar face a toilet or kitchen.

It should also not be place against the wall that is shared with the kitchen or toilet. It should also not be placed on a spot where there is an underground water pipe or drain.

 

Although the best place for the altar is in the living room looking out of the front of the house, it should not be too close to the door or to the windows.

Ideally it should also be in a quiet location. So placing the hi-fi or piano next to the altar is out. So is playing mah jong session in front of the altar! The air conditioner should also not be placed above or next to the altar.

To save on space, some people place the aquarium underneath the altar. This is not recommended as there is a “water-fire” clash between the aquarium (water) and the altar (fire).

How high should the altar be and what is the best colour? There is only one condition on the height of the altar. The top level for the positioning of the heavenly beings should be the worshippers head and not lower than the mouth. Looking up at the deities suggest respect. If the altar is lower then you will be looking down and it suggests disrespect for the deities.

The best colour for the altar is red as in signifies auspiciousness. It does not have to be solid red. A wooden altar stained in some shade of red will do very well. Black is not suitable as it signifies inauspiciousness.

Finally do remember to pick an auspicious date to move in and set up the altar.

 

 

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60 thoughts on “Where do I Place the Altar?”

  1. Please tell me if it is a good idea to place an altar at the landing of the stairs. Or staircase has good lighting and nothing that violates good feng shui is above or below, behind or in front of it. If it is less than favorable in your opinion, what cures can I employ at the landing in order to fix whatever bad feng shui it may create. I am hoping for your reply. Thank you.

    1. Hi Edwin,

      It depends on the type of the Altar. The rule differ for example between Taoist and Buddhist deity, ancestors etc.

      The placement rules for Taoist deity is stricter.

      In my opinion, it should be fine if there is enough space at the landing.

      But as a general rule, the altar should not be place in the bedroom or the kitchen.

  2. Hi

    My Altar will be placed against a wall, which separates kitchen and the living room. But the other side of the wall behind the Altar will be the place i put my refridgerator. Is that ok?

    Regards
    Siew ling

    1. Hi Siew Ling,

      It is ok to place the altar against the wall which separates the kitchen from the living. Ensure that the altar is not place under the stairs or toilet upstairs. Also do not place a bed directly behind the altar.

      Regards,

      Henry Fong

  3. Hi. I have a question regarding the placement of an altar. I understand that it should face, back, or underneath a bathroom/bedroom. Can an altar be placed in a room with a fireplace…I’m not placing the altar on the fireplace mantle but the the fireplace is against the wall in the same room as the altar. What about Windows? Can an altar be close to windows bc new homes have lots of windows…the altar backs onto a wall but is sandwiched between windows
    Thanks for answering my questions

    1. Hi Kat,

      Do you mean outside the toilet but against the common wall with the toilet/bath? Yes, you can. The alter however cannot be inside the toilet or located directly above the altar.

      Cheers,

    1. Many of the don’t are devise as a sign of respect.

      For example not placing the altar under the staircase or under the toilet or next to the shoe cabinet.

      But if you are so short of space and cannot place the altar anywhere else, I believe your god or deities or ancestor will understand.

      As for the kitchen, your should not place the altar inside the kitchen. Facing the kitchen door should not be a problem.

      Cheers,

      Henry Fong

  4. Hello Sir,

    I would like to ask if it is ok to put the altar inside your bedroom but it has a partition,the other side will be the location of our bed and we will put the altar on the other side and it will be facing our bedroom door.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Janice, it depend on the type of the altar. Most of the rules that I talk about relate to Chinese deities and ancestor tablets. For these, I would not recommend placing them in the bedroom, partition or not. Thanks.

  5. Hi greetings of peace, in a two level house, which floor should the altar be appropriately placed? And should i consider flying star movements yearly in deciding right altar locations? Thank you and more power.

    1. Hi Ray, I suggest the lower level. It is good if the altar can be placed in a location with auspicious Flying Stars but it is not mandatory. Cheers.

  6. In new apartments, the contractor / architect concealed water pipes / aircon hoses by boxing up like a beam along the ceiling edges. Are they to be taken as beam so altar should not put below?

  7. Hi Henry,

    Can altar table be placed along the main door wall? And also if I can place a dining table right in front (off center) of the altar. By doing so does it show any disrespect to the god (taoist)? Sorry for my singlish 🙂

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Many thanks
    Bryan

  8. Hi Henry,

    I wanted to set up an altar in my living room coming up the stairs with a wall where it divided from the kitchen. Behind the wall is the refrigerator and above the altar, the wall have some family photo display. The altar will be facing the south front door. Will it be ok to have the altar place against the dividing wall and have family pictures above it on the wall?

    Thank you so much,

    Teng

  9. Hi Henry, for a 2 storey house, can an alter be placed at the landing of the 1st row of stairs? like in the middle of the full 2 rows of steps. where normally people place console tables, or large picture frames etc etc… does the edges for the staircase not effect the fengshui of an alter here? thank you

  10. Hi doctor Henry, is it good if i placed my altar at the corner wall 2meters from the stairway landing & 2meters from the maindoor. The image is facing diagonally to the main entrance door & the living room..this is the only quiet nook in my new apartment place. Please advise. Thanks, Judylove

  11. Hi Henry, strangely, the first level of my new house is where the main door is located, and only has one bedroom. The second level is where the living room, kitchen and remaining bedrooms are. In this case, would it be better if i place the altar on the first or second level?

  12. The altar can facing the staircase flight ?
    My living space is limited for altar
    1) altar facing staircase first flight to first floor
    2) altar placed very closed to dry kitchen . For cooking I will do in wet kitchen
    3) outside of bed rooom door .

    1. Altar should not be under the staircase. It should not be in the kitchen. It should not be in the bedroom.

      Your three options are not the best of locations but they are acceptable.

  13. Hi Henry
    We will be getting our flat soon…and looking at the layout…it is not possible to place the altar facing the main door as there is simply no place. Can the altar be placed facing towards the living room…which is also facing a wall-to-wall window? The altar is mainly for Buddha and Guan Yin, ancestors, Di Zhu.
    The altar will be facing south by the way.
    Appreciate your advice.

  14. Hi Henry,
    Good day to you… would like your advise if I can place an altar (guan yin) in the dining area, facing the front door? Dining table is just right in front of the altar… thank you…

    Wei Mun

  15. Hi Henry,

    Can the dining table be placed in front of the altar table? Or even a bit off-centre from the altar table?

    Kind regards,
    San

  16. Hello Henry. Can I place my Thien Kong altar hooked onto a pillar but under a roof beam as there isn’t any alternative brick wall available in front porch area. Thanks.

    1. Hi Ling,

      As a best practice the altar should not be placed under a beam. However I have come across cases like yours where there are no other choices. I believe the “gods” will understand!

  17. Hi Henry, can I place the 3 Jeweled Refugee/Dieties in front of Guan Yin on the alter? The Jeweled Refugees statutes are leas than 1/2 the size of Guan Yin’s picture.

  18. Hello,
    What is the proper etiquette when it comes to physically moving the location of an altar? Also, If done so in the incorrect way, what can be done to undo any disrespect that may have been ensued?

    Thanks

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