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.

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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274 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.

      1. Hi Would Like to know if its ok to have the Toilet 2 levels above the kuan yin altar with a storage room in between for a 3 storey house. Meaning Level G Altar Level 1 Storage room Level 2 Bathroom. Thanks!

    2. Hi Henry,

      Planned to place Altar facing condobbalcony and supporting wall of the Altar is shared wall with kitchen. Between kitchen and Altar is a fridge, is it okay?

      Planned to do major cooking at wet kitchen further away.

      Please advise. Thanks.

  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?

    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.


      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. I’m Mimi i have altar in my bedroom closet
      its a save place for me to visit my deity’s and my ancestor,
      and make offering to them with food and ancestor money,

    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.


    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.


      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.


    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

  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,


  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.

    1. Yes, you can place the altar facing the living room (wall to wall). The arrangement for Guan Yin and ancestors are less stringent than say, Guan Yu.

  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,

        1. In the car? Actually I do not know how to answer this!
          Outside? Please note that the advise that I have written about are for Altars in the Chinese household. The answer is to always place it inside.

  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.

    1. Hi Wilson,

      Altar placed where it faces a wall where the kitchen is behind is fine. However some have taboo if the bed is directly behind the altar.

  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?


  19. Hi, can we place fish tank beside the altar table? Can the altar table facing the window? What Colour of the altar table is suitable for placing guan yin? White or cherry or walnut?

  20. Hi Henry,

    I live in a condo. Can the Guan Yin altar be placed in the middle of the living room facing the main door directly? At the left side of the altar, there is a shoe cabinet which is about 5feet away. Meaning to say, the shoe cabinet will be facing the side of the altar. Will this be okay?

  21. Hihi.

    Im moving house. Can i temporary place my parents’ tablet at my sister house. Sharing the same altar with their diety or place at the temple would b better?

  22. I live in a small one bedroom apartment where the kitchen and living area are one big open space. I have a large quan yin statue. Where should I place her? Would it still be considered he Kitchen if I placed her in the living room area of the space?

  23. Hi Henry,

    For condo type, where should i place the altar please? Facing the entrance or facing the balcony(which is also facing living room) please?
    Thank you.

  24. Hi Henry,

    I want to place the altar in front of the main door but it means that the kitchen stove will be diagonally facing the altar…what do u think?

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Yes but you should ensure that there is enough space between the front door and the altar. For example 3 feet of less is too close while 4 feet or more should be adequate. Also ensure that the altar is supported by a wall or some other structure behind. Cheers.

      1. Hello Henry ,
        Can I place my altar inside the bedroom nobody is using ? My altar facing the main door the back wall is the toilet . Need advice

        Thanks celia

        1. If the bedroom is not used as a bedroom, then it is just a room and you can place the altar inside. Do note that the deity Guan Yu should ideally be palace in the living and facing the front of the house. Buddha and ancestors tablet can be placed in a room. Altar facing the main door is fine and good. Altar against the wall shared with a toilet is not ideal but acceptable if the WC is not directly behind the wall. Cheers.

  25. Hi, can i put Guan Yu statue in my living room wine cabinet and facing the main entrace front door? Is it necessary to put on altar and pray to him?

  26. Hi Sir,
    Can I put my altar in the dining portion of the house directly facing the main door, behind the altar is the dirty kitchen? Or when inside the house, will be placed on the right side portion facing the play room but not facing the main door? Thnx.

    1. Yes, you can place the altar i the dining area facing the main door. The altar in the dining area must be clearly separated from the kitchen with a solid wall. The a;tar need not be directly facing the main door. However it should ideally be facing the front of the house.

  27. How about north east corner of Bedroom closet, (has sliding door) To close off for privacy. It’s next to north window. Ancestor table low to my upper thigh, extra shelf for Diety high above. Only space I have. Will it work out?

  28. Greetings! I’m planning to make an altar and put it on a hanging shelf (a flat piece of wood) in our living room over our sofa. It’s diagonally positioned from our main door. Can it be like that? Over a sofa and diagonal to the main entrance of our house?

    1. Traditionally the altar is floor standing. Facing the main door is good. Diagonal to the main entrance is fine too. Hanging shelf? In the old days perhaps not but nowadays with shrinking living spaces, I would say why not?

  29. Can I place my ancestor altar in a closet in the living area near the entrance way? I ask because I have people coming over all the time and don’t want the evil eye thrown or a whole lot of personal questions asked also i have little kids here alot. I do not want to disrespect my ancestors nor do I want the altar space disturbed. It’s a very clean area and empty. Thanks Peace&Blessings

  30. Hi Henry
    I shall be moving house , and would like to moving the Guan Di and ancestors tablet as well. What steps/ procedures must i follow
    Thaank you.

  31. Good morning Henry, it is hard to find a good location to place an altar. What if the altar is placed by a clear wall in the living room away from the front door, but between two windows and there is an attached drainage pipe outside the wall running from the roof water gutter to the underground drainage to the street. Please advise. Thank you very much in advance. Phillip

    1. You mentioned clear wall. Is this like a glass panel? Ideally the altar should sit with a solid wall behind. I would not worry too much about the drainage pipe. Cheers.

  32. HI. Just asking if I can place my altar in one area or portion of the cabinet facing the front door.Beside is the area for component..Above the cabinet is the second floor with bedroom.Or is it better to place the altar facing the inside of the living room, the back of the altar will be the wall alongside of the front door,and altar is facing a storage room….And can I place my Chinese deities together with my western statues like Jesus and Mary at the same level at the altar..please help..thank you very much

    1. If you have the Chinese Deity Guan Yu, then it is better to place the altar in the cabinet facing the front door. Otherwise both options are fine. And yes, there should not be any problem sharing the altar with other Western statues.

      1. I have tudigong, quan yin and the 3 wise men..then Mama Mary, Jesus, Holy family and The infant Jesus…Do i have to remove the glass from the cabinet when placing the altar there.. Thanks a lot

  33. Hi,

    Deity on the altar place must be place in the centre? Cos when i place the deity in the centre of the altar it will be facing 2 frame structure of the window, its sort of like facing pillar. So I intend to shift 1 cm to 2cm away from the centre of the altar.

    Kindly advise.


  34. Hi Henry
    I live in a condo. Can I place my altar facing directly the balcony across the living room….behind the altar is a wall of a room.

  35. Hi, can I put my Tien Kong Altar on the right side of the front main door , where there is a small garden area. My left side is car porch without any pillar.
    I notice my ppl placing the Tien Kong in the left instead on the right . Pls advise thank you

    1. Traditionally it is placed on the left side. I cannot tell you if it is ok to put it on the right side cos I do not really know. But if you have no choice, then . . . . .

  36. Hi Henry, can I hook on the Tien Kong altar on the shoe cabinet wall on the right side of my main door? There is no other pillar or wall on my left side main entrance.

  37. I live in studio apartments. (24persq meter) .I intend to set up my altar facing east unfortunately the wall behind is the kitchen and bathroom.is it ok to do that. Thanks.

    1. Hi Albert,

      The altar cannot be place within the kitchen and toilet. But outside of them is ok. If you place the altar against the wall that is shared with the toilet, place a timber screen in between.

  38. I live in a small condo unit. There is a lavabo with stove on the left side and a toilet on the right side of the hallway of the main door. If I will place my altar for Guan Yin and Laughing Buddha on a wall facing the main door, that altar will be between the window (on the right side of the altar) and the air con unit (on the left side of the altar). The window is directly facing the main door. The altar is diagonally facing the main door, the lavabo and stove. Below the altar are bookshelves. The main door is on the east. The opposite wall where the altar, the window and air con unit are located is on the west side. Is the altar OK? Can I combine Guan Yin and Laughing Buddha, both are bronze statues, on the same altar. Thank you.

  39. Hi Henry,

    Soon I will be moving to my new apartment whereby my entrance door and balcony are facing North( inside the apt looking out) and South respectively. As I enter my main door, my kitchen is on my right side ( stove is approximately 5 to 6 feet from the main door).

    I intend to place my Kuan Yin poster at a protruded window which is on my left side when I enter the main door (which I am going to seal it with solid wood ,totally closed window ) and a alter table placed in front. That means, my Kuan Yin is sitting in East position ( North East Grid) facing West direction ie indirectly facing my stove. Do you think is a good location as I want to it to be near to the main entrance rather than further to the living areas and balcony?

    Your advice is highly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi William,

      The rules for placing Kuan Yin is less stringent. Unlike Guan Yu for example that must be place in a location that faces the main door or facing side of the house, Kuan Yin can be place in most places except the kitchen, toilet, bedroom, store room, under that stairs and under the toilet.

  40. Hello Henry,
    I have a living room with decorative fire place (no fires possible) and broad mantle above, mouth level–can I use it as altar? It faces front window and is high enough and attractive, also central to main living space.

    The other option is 10 by 4.4 foot alcove opening onto living room with french doors–I could put it in there like narrow special altar room only. good for prostrations but closed off unless French doors left open as general rule…thoughts?

    third option is raised platform, perhaps top of a re-purposed bunkbed frame, painted, in alcove or living room. I had this idea to raise the level above living room couch, etc. You could climb up to top level and sit in front of fold-out altar at one end of platform, like very small desk you sit crosslegged in front of– to offer and mediate. (not a bed–just a raised platform used as altar to be higher). Is that crazy or ingenious? I could decorate it properly and use lower level as empty or for cushions…Small space necessitates ingenuity. Tibetan Buddhist Deities.

    Your thoughts appreciated. thank you

    1. Hi Kristy,

      They are pretty ingenious options. For me, it is generally safe if you do not place the altar in the kitchen, bedroom, toilet, store room, under the stairs, or a toilet. In addition, the space in front of the altar should not be too tight. It should work!

  41. Hi Henry,
    I heard that Thien Kong altar must always be on left side from your front gate. Is it true? My front gate is basically located at the most left so can I place it on my right? Direction refers fm inside house.

    1. Hi Calvin,

      As a rule, it should be on the left. But I do know that some people have no choice but to place it on the right side. Such is life!

  42. Hi Henry
    Can one place Kuan Yin outside the apartment unit? The patio is partially covered. The top (ceiling) of the patio is covered by the upper unit patio. The sides are open to the elements. However if it rains Kuan Yin is protected cos we housed her in a glass enclosure. Is this acceptable?

  43. Hello Henry
    Can I place the kuan yin and ancestors tablet altar in front of a big wall mirror?
    Behind the altar will a big wall mirror.

    With regards

    1. Hello Henry,

      Is it okay for a buddhist deity ( To Tee Kong) and ancestors tablet shared the same wall as the door rest when its open? (really close to the door opening?? thanks!

  44. Hi Henry, Need your advise, existing my Altar is putting at downstraise facing the main door. The problem currently just notice altar should not place under the toilet and my current is the altar table up is an toilet. I really can find a good space in my house since mostly the other space not facing to main door. My house is an cluster house, i am thinking weather a altar table can put at upstraise living room. I plan to extended the living room to the balcony and place altar table in the living facing to front house .

  45. Hi
    I would like to check whether ALTAR table can put at the upstairs. Since my current Altar table is putting at living room faced to front main door but notice that the up of the level is toilet. So I can find another position that is suitable in downstairs suitable.

  46. Hi Henry,

    Can i place the altar facing dining table/area which not face to main door or windows? Appreciate your reply. Thanks.

  47. Hello Henry.

    Recently bought a condo and i am unable to find a place to put my altar (quan yin & ancestor)
    Is putting the altar at the balcony side wall advisable.
    Its properly shaded. No sun.

  48. Hello Henry,
    Right now, my prayer altar with Guan Yin and Tigong is facing the main entrance of my house. Against the wall behind is the staircase leading to first floor. This is an ideal position but unfortunately, there’s a toilet above the altar on the first floor. What can I do?

    Another option of placing the altar is against another wall, but there’s a toilet right behind. This placement faces a front sliding door, separated by a huge work table and TV area. There’s also a sliding door directly at its right side. Left side leads to a kitchen. This is a high traffic area with a huge rectangle work table right in front; kids and adults work and eat on this table nearly all the time. When we sit at this table, we’ll be either facing the altar or our backs facing it.

    Which would be a better option? If I need to shift the altar table from current position, what’s the procedure? Your advice is most appreciated. Thanks

  49. Hi Sir, I’m living in an apartment. Can I place altar facing my living room balcony but the wall behind my altar is my kitchen and right behind the wall it is my basin washing utensils. Thanks

  50. hi henry,
    kindly assist please..my main door space was to small… left side is the door to toilet and right is the small room an open small space opposite of the room was the open kitchen… is it ok to put the altar next to the door to room?… other space available is the small corner behind the kitchen bar next to the dining table… please help.
    thank you.

  51. Hie Henry, I have a general question regarding ancestor tablet at home. Can we worship both the husband and wife side ancestor in the same house but in 2 different ancestor table ie 1 ancestor tablet next to the main god and another ancestor tablet in the dining room? Please advise. Thank you in advance for your help.

  52. Hi Henry,

    Based a divider ( with proper spacing ) be used to place Buddha statue ? This divider will be facing the door.

  53. Hi, can I place catholic shrine and Chinese shrine like Te ya Kong, To te Kong together in one altar. Thank you.

  54. Hi, my house main door is facing the lift which seems to be bad according to some info found on the internet.

    It is said that a statue of Guan Di will help protect the house. But the wall facing main door on the other side is the kitchen. So is it ok to build alter?

    1. Do you mean that the altar will face the main door but sitting against a wall shared with the kitchen? If yes, then it is fine to build the altar there.

  55. Hi Henry,
    We are renovating our home and thinking of having the altar positioned in the corner of the hallway (facing the open living, dining and kitchen area) and near toilet entry door – is this ok?

  56. Hi Henry,
    Our God of Mercy Prayer’s table is placed in the hall and my child’s room is just behind the wall of where we placed the prayer’s table.
    My child’s bed head is not sharing the same wall as the back of the prayer’s table. Please advise if its ok to place my child’s bed end facing the shared wall and with my boy’s leg facing the wall when he is sleeping.
    There is a walkway gap between the bed end and tge wall.
    Your kind advise is much appreciated.

  57. Hi Henry,

    Thank you for the informative article. My parents always told us that the alter (protective spirit of the house) has to be placed directly on the floor and also first floor (which seems to be contrary to what you said) but my parents could be wrong… somehow all the Chinese in Cambodia always place have the altars in red little house and directly on the floor facing front door…. so I’m in conflict here as I don’t know whether to replace the location off the floor. And my main entrance opens to a foyer and the living area is on the second floor. So the only spot for me to place the altar for front facing is the space between the stairs and the storage/shoe closet. Otherwise it has to be against the wall of the laundry room and facing garage door only. Is either option ok? If not, i’ll Have to move the altar to the second floor in the dining area cos the living area is more toward the back of the house. Thank you in advance!! Sophie

    1. One of the function of the altar is to provide protection to the occupants of the house. In the old days and with traditional designed house the altar is always place facing the main door and on the ground level. However these days the design of houses vary and can be non traditional like your. So how do we place them. I think we should go back to the basic principle, protection, at the point of entry or the main door even if the main door now is no longer at ground level.

    2. Hi Sophie, in traditional houses, the main door is always on the ground level. The altar is also placed facing the front door to provide protection for the occupants of the house. However in modern design the main door may not be at ground level. So we go back to the basic principle which is to provide protection. For me I will still place the altar facing the main door even if the main door is not on the ground floor.

  58. Hi, i have a very small living room. Can i place the altar againest the wall next to the kitchen? Behind the wall is a storeroom.

  59. Hi good afternoon…i just want to ask if where is the best place to put the last supper,made of fabric.hope you can help me.thank you so much

  60. Hi Dr Henry.
    Can I place a guanyin statue (not setting an altar) on the hifi (next to TV cabinet. The location is sitting SW/W facing SE/E (main door). Previously I placed in my son’s room but now he is 22, i like to change the display location. Is there any concern if for display purposes? i read your article altar not on hifi and noisy area. But is it ok if display for protection and feng shui reason.

    1. Hi Alberta, it is fine to place the altar to face the kitchen wall. However it should not face the door into the kitchen. The altar should not “see” into the kitchen through a door or an opening into the kitchen.

        1. Certain deities like Guan Yu (Kong) requires it to be place in the living facing the facing side of the house. Others like Guan Yin have less restriction. Just ensure that you do not place them in the kitchen, bedroom, toilet, store or under the stairs or a toilet. Also ensure that they do not have any structures that generate Sha Qi at the altar.

  61. The original design for the butsudan began in India, where people built altars as an offering-place to the Buddha. When Buddhism came to China and Korea, statues of the Buddha were placed on pedestals or platforms. The Chinese and Koreans built walls and doors around the statues to shield them from the weather. They could then safely offer their prayers, incense, etc. to the statue or scroll without it falling and breaking.

  62. Hi…may i know if the buddha altar can face a chinese
    Painting with a glass framed? i can see a relection of the Buddha statue on it. is it appropriate? thanks

    1. As a best practice the altar should sit solidly on the floor. However in modern living, space is a luxury and many people are like you forced to have a hanging altar. I do not see any harm in passing underneath it. They should understand!

  63. Good day Sir,
    I read through one of your above reply saying toilet located 2 floor or more above alter is okay. But my alter is taoist deity is it okay?

  64. Hi, can i put my ancestor’s altar at the second level of my house where the back is a bedroom or facing the staircase walking up where the back is neighbour wall?

    1. Provided that the bed is not places against the wall with the altar on the other side. The altar also represent the owner. If facing the staircase, it imply losing money. So better not.

  65. Hi Henry
    Many years ago when I moved into my new house I consulted a feng shui master to guide me where to placed my Guan Yin Buddha facing a window beside the front door. As advised we placed our Guan Yin directly in front of the dining table where we eat meat every meal.
    I was told that it is very disrespectful to Guan Yin to eat meat in front of Guan Yin. Should I move my Guan Yin Altar to the left side which is facing the main door

  66. Hello, my mother recently passed away and my father has an altar set up at their home. I do not live with my parents but was wondering if I can have one set up at my home, like a mini altar? Or is there a requirement that you can only have one ancestral altar?

    1. Traditionally there should be one ancestral altar. However you can certainly setup something (like a mini altar) in your home to remember your mother by.

  67. Hi Henry
    Can i place my altar in the living room facing out of the sliding door on the 1st floor as there is a flight of stairs facing the front door?

  68. Hi Henry

    My First question is……
    My Buddha alter is on the 2nd floor of my house in an a spareroom I use for buddha room , altar is facing north and next to it is my ancestor altar facing north…is this ok?

    My second question….
    On my buddha altar is quan kung diety as well with buddha and quan yin , is this ok?

    1. There are not a lot of placement rules for Kuan Yin. It should not be in the bedroom or kitchen or under a staircase or under a toilet. Other than that it is fine. However when place together with the ancestor tablet, Kuan Yin should stand taller, or higher. Quan Kung co-exist with Kuan Yin. Both should stand higher than the ancestor tablets.

  69. Hi Henry.
    Can I place a KuanYin statue on a shelf in a medium sized long garden on the western portion of my condo unit? This garden is part of my unit. If OK, which direction should the KuanYin statue face? North or South?

  70. Hi Henry

    1. Is that okay altar supported by a solid cabinet wood instead of wall?
    2. Can we use yellow as the altar background instead of red?

      1. Hi Henry, is there any can or cannot items inside this cabinet? As I have the placement as Shanel.

        What about if we build a solid partitionwall, what cannot be placed behind this wall? We intend to build a cabinet with shelves for storage or shoes.

        Appreciate your reply. Thanks!

  71. Hi. Can I place my guan yin in the “dry” kitchen directly facing dry kitchen entrance? Will be facing guan yin once entered the dry kitchen. The dry kitchen only for fridge and drink water.

  72. Hi. Can I place my guan yin at a wall in between bedroom and bathroom? Bathroom is facing bedroom door. Like facing the wall, left is bathroom and right is bedroom.

      1. Hi Henry,

        Is Altar (ground floor) below toilet (at first floor) worse or next to dinning area (open living hall & dining area)? Which is better place to put the Altar?

        Thank you in advance.

  73. Hi Henry, Can the altar room place beside a bathroom? The guan yin table is not lean against the shared wall with the bathroom thou.

    1. Hi Sam, the prayer room adjacent to the bathroom is quite acceptable. And as you rightfully pointed out, the altar table should not be against the wall shared with the bathroom.

  74. Hi Henry, i am moving out of my current house soon, but my new bto flat was delayed due to Covid 19. I will be renting a place to stay temporarily. I need your advice how/what can I do to my Guan Yin which I intend to move to my new house. The owner of the place that I rented do not allow me to house my Guan Yin there. Thank you.

    1. Guan Yin is quite forgiving. Do you have a friend who can house it for you temporarily. If not, you may wish to you consult your temple. They may be able to help.

  75. Hi master, can I check with you, is it ok to place the Guan Yin altar outside but against the bedroom wall? Is there any requirements for the bed inside the room (including bed location and facing)?
    In this setup, the altar would face the main door. Not directly but sideway (30 degree), as there is a short partition wall in front of the main door. Is it acceptable?
    Does the facing direction of the altar have to be suitable for the owner’s Kua number?

    1. It’s okay to place the Guan Yin altar outside but against the bedroom wall. Normally you do not want place the bedhead against the same wall that you share with the altar. Check that there are no walls cutting the altar. In my practice I do not base the altar facing on the owner’s kua number. Just ensure that the altar is not inside the bedroom, kitchen, store, under the staircase or toilet/bath.

  76. Hi Henry! I have a series of questions. Our house has two doors, one is the one which we consider as the main door which we don’t really use often, while we have a front door which we often use since its a lot closer to the main road and also since it is more convenient to use. The problem with the front door is that that right across our front door is also our dirty/wet kitchen, where we often prepare the meals.

    Since we have two doors my family decided place two different deities facing each entrance: for the main door (the one which we don’t use often), we decided to place Kuan Kung and 2 pi yaos; while for the front door (the one we use often and the one that faces the wet kitchen) we placed Guan Yin and 2 Fu dogs to accompany her. For our second floor, my family also has the healing buddha and six other smaller buddhas placed in our bedroom.

    Did we place our deities correctly? Is it okay to place Guan Yin with the foo dogs, across the front door? Is it also okay to place Kuan Kung and the pi yaos across the main door? How about the healing buddha and the six smaller buddhas, should we place them other than the bedroom? Should we also separate the healing buddha from the six buddhas?

    I apologize for asking all these questions. My family isn’t really familiar anymore with the traditions since my ancestors have long converted to Catholicism for a long time, and even though we still follow certain Chinese practices, we’re not as knowledgeable anymore of these traditions. I can’t also say that it’s an alter per se since my family also keep Christian/Roman Catholic altars in our house. Nevertheless, I still want to know if what we’ve done is correct.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Bry, the Buddhas and Guan Yin are very forgiving. As long at you do not place them in your bedroom, kitchen, toilet, bath, under the stairs or toilet/bath, it is fine. There are however some additional rules regarding the placement of the altar for Guan Gong. In addition to the above, it should face the main door or look out of the facing of the house. Or the side of the house where visitors will likely come in from. There should be a decent amount of space between the altar (Guan Gong) and the main door and you must avoid having any structures that ‘attack’ the altar. I hope this is helpful. Cheers.

  77. Hi,
    Is it ok to place the alter on the West wall facing east ? From the West wall the alter will be facing Windows from which our front garden can be viewed.

      1. Hi Hedry,
        1. Is that ok my altar (guan yin) do not supported by wall? Due to space concern, I cannot build a wall. My altar cabinet build in with plywood material. (full height)
        2. My altar is wood colour, is that okay?
        Thanks you.

        1. Ideally, an altar should be supported by a wall. So you must try your best to have a wall. However, Guan Yin is quite forgiving. If you absolutely cannot do it, I suppose it is okay.

  78. Hi Henry, I would like to check will it be okay for us to place altar table at the balcony on solid wall, Guan Yin will be facing outwards (altar’s right side is the living room)? As the main door hallway is too narrow to place the altar.

    1. It depends. The Guan Yu deity represents the house owner and should be placed in a protected position. Guan Yin and the other Buddhas are quite forgiving.

  79. Hi Henry,
    May I ask if we can place our altar between our sofa and display cabinet? Placing atlar there would also mean facing the passageway to the bedrooms and altar faces the masterbed ro entrance. Will that be ok?

    1. The Altar cannot be placed in the bedroom. However, the passageway leading to the bedroom is acceptable as long as the altar does not directly face the bed.

  80. Hi Henry ,

    Can I place my altar at balcony side wall sitting on top of wood decking ? It will be Facing east , but right beside our condo ( 80m away is expressway) , we staying on high floor .
    We r praying to 7 Buddha & Tua Pei Kong .
    Should we build one altar ( Tua pei gong lower height ?) Buddha sitting higher .
    Pls kindly advice us . Thank you

    1. Buddha is quite forgiving. Should not be a problem. You can place, for example, a wooden piece to elevate the buddhas. Tua Pei Gong will be lower.

  81. Hi Henry,

    My alter is located beneath the stairs and faces a window. Is it all right, or is it a bad omen for us?

  82. Hi Henry,

    Can at Lvl 2 Guan Yin Altar be placed under Lvl 3 toilet – direct under shower & basin, not WC?

    Hope to hear from you Soon.

  83. Hi Henry!

    Can the altar be placed upstairs living room facing the bedroom or downstairs living room facing front of house but under a bedroom ?

  84. Dear Master

    Can I place my Chinese altar (with San Jun and Di Zu Gong) against a solid wall facing west, and facing a bedroom door at the other end of the corridor? In this position, the main entrance is on the altar’s right and the living room with main windows is on the altar’s left.

    Please advise.

    Thank You.

  85. Hi Henry,

    My altar cabinet placement (where i place Guan Yin deity and my ancestors) is facing the main sliding door of the house. However it is like only almost 50% of the cabinet is facing the main sliding door (facing outside), and portion of the altar is facing the wall beside the main sliding door. Any advice regarding this? Would this be ok?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. The altar should face the main or sliding door or the facing side of the house. It does not need to face the main door or sliding door completely. Cheers.

  86. Hi Henry
    my house is long and narrow. Enter from the main door is the living room following behind is the dining area (with the dry kitchen on the left); wet kitchen is outside. Can I place the altar right at the end of the dining area on the end wall of the house. The alter will be facing directly at the main entrance, but the dry kitchen is beside the altar . Thank you

  87. Hi Henry

    Can an ancestor altar be placed outside the house but against house’s wall and under cover? I have allergies so can’t burn incense inside. My grandma loved the garden and that’s where she would sit if she was still here.

    If appropriate, what about adding a deity too? I remember my parents had guan yin.

    Thank you

    1. We normally do not do that. However, if the altar is covered and protected at the sides, then I suppose we can make an exception. Guan Yin can be very forgiving but still, I recommend that it be placed inside the house. You can replace incense with lights.

  88. Hi Henry,
    The altar is placed in the living room, against the wall and facing the front door . The wall is shared with the master bedroom. Is it ok?

  89. I have a weird situation; the way my home is positioned it will be against a wall but in living room opposite the TV but it does not necessarily have a door to face but yet a staircase that leads to a door. Is that ok ?

      1. Hi! Bedhead sharing the same wall as an altar is a bad thing, right? May I ask if there are any solutions if there is nowhere else to place my bed except directly behind an altar?

        1. Hi Andy, Can you place the bedhead against another wall in the room behind the altar? If you do not have any other options, this is still acceptable.

  90. Hi Henry,

    I was wondering whether I could place an alter at the corner of 2 walls (triangular alter table), facing the main door. Been at the corner, its not directly facing the main door, but probably about 30degree away.
    Could I than position the Buddha to face the main door instead?

    1. Hi Jason, I have not come across a triangular altar table. The best practice is to have a wall at the back of the altar for support. So I am not sure if the corner or two walls qualify. Buddha is quite tolerant. It does not have to face the main door or the facing side of the house. So you have many more options. Cheers.

  91. Hi Dr Henry,
    Can i place my husband s tablet on the altar with Guan Yin beside in the living room facing the door. Behind the altar is a sliding glass door with a sliding blind as a screen.

    1. You can place your husband’s tablet on the altar with Guan Yin. However, Guan Yin should be on a higher level. You can place a wood block to elevate Guan Yin. The back of the altar should be supported ideally with a solid wall. The sliding glass door with a blind is therefore not ideal.

  92. Hi Henry,

    May I know is it okay if I placed my Altar (Buddha only) below the standard wall unit aircon 1.5hp and this area is besides the sliding door which accessible to balcony? As my condo actually quite small and not much place for me to consider.

    Thanks for help

  93. Hi. I am currently building our house. I am planning to place our altar as you enter the house, in front of the stairs, before my office. Is that okay?

    1. Hi Ri, I am trying to visualize the layout but with difficulty. As a rule, the altar facing the main door or the facing side of the house is fine. Ensure also that the altar is not “attacked” by any “sha” from within or outside the house.

  94. Hi Henry,

    Can the altar be place opposite the wall ? The wall will separate between living hall and toilet



  95. Hi I live in an apartment. I just realized that my built in altar share the same wall as my neighbor’s bedroom. Does the position of my neighbour’s bed head matter since it is sharing the wall?

    1. It is not auspicious if your neighbor’s bedhead also shares the same wall as your built-in altar. In other words your altar and your neighbor’s bedhead sandwich a common wall.

  96. Hi Henry
    May I know can I place my Buddha and Tua Pek Kong together on the same altar table. My Tua Pek Kong statue is abt 11″ and my buddha statue is abt 16″. Both sits on a 4″ wooden block. Is it alright to place 2 statues or do I need to add in another one which I thght of getting Di Zhang Wang Pusa if I have to, in order to round up to 3. And can I offered meat to my Tua Pek Kong on his birthday and special occasion on the altar table too. Appreciate your kind reply. Thank you.

    1. Yes, they can be together but Buddha should sit higher on a higher wooden block. Another statue is fine but buddha should sit higher. As for meat offering, Buddha is vegetarian!

  97. Hi Master.

    i have a cabinet space in the living room for my Buddha that is high above and there is another cabinet space just below, can i place my ancestral tablet in this space under the Buddha .


  98. Can I have a altar set up in the kitchen for zao jun the kitchen god it will be facing my front entrance of my house but also the bathroom door is opposite please advise.

    Also can I keep tudi gon po on same altar with gyan yin

  99. Hi..saya memiliki altar Tu Di Gong.
    Apa boleh di atas altar Tu Di Gong ada barang ?
    Karena altarnya dibuatkan jadi 1 dengan lemari tv di sebelahnya. Jadi di atas Tu Di Gong terdapat ambala foto/ pajangan.


  100. Hi Henry
    Can I place my altar (ancestor tablet+god) infront of sliding door facing main door? 1 point is ppl say block main entrance directly to balcony

    1. Yes, you can provided that there is enough space between the altar and the sliding door. E.g. 3 feet is probably too near while 5 feet or more is far enough.

  101. I am building a partition wall in my living room and the altar is place is placed with its back against the partition wall. Is there any concerns if its against the partition wall and not against the actual brick wall?

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