Chinese Marriage Traditions

The processes of an ancient Chinese marriage are encapsulated in a term called Three (3) Letters and Six (6) Etiquettes.

The Three Letters are the engagement, the delivery of gifts and the taking of the bride letter.

Wedding Ring
Wedding Ring

In ancient times, if a man is interested in a woman, he will engage a go-in between (an agent) to convey the message to the woman’s family. If the woman’s family finds him acceptable, they will notify him and he can make the proposal by delivering the formal letter of engagement on an auspicious date.

Click here to View or Download. Email not required.

The next step is to deliver wedding gifts to the woman’s family. These wedding gifts, usually expensive, are accompanied by the ‘Delivery of Gift’ letter which is essentially a list of items and quantity much like a delivery order! By signing this letter, it signifies acceptance of the marriage. It is also a way for the man to guard against pilferage by the delivery team!

The third letter is known as the Bride Taking Letter as it is the letter that the groom produces when he arrives at the bride’s home on the wedding day. Upon receiving the letter, the bride is considered to be taken (have left home) to become a member of the groom’s family. It is no wonder why the bride mothers weep uncontrollably on wedding days. It is like losing a daughter!

What then are the Six Etiquettes?

It refers to the six main processes in an ancient Chinese marriage. It includes the official proposal, the checking of Ba Zi, selection of auspicious date for the wedding, delivery of gifts, confirmation of wedding dates and finally the wedding itself.

Once the man has set his eyes on the girl, he sends an official proposal to the woman’s family. Once the proposal is accepted, he will seek the services of an astrologer to determine if they are compatible. Research will also be done to ensure that there is no blood relationship between them. At this stage the engagement can be called off if they are not compatible or if their blood line are somewhat connected.

The next step is the selection of auspicious date for wedding followed by followed by the delivery of gifts.

After the gifts are accepted, the woman’s family will seek an astrologer to check the auspiciousness of the proposed wedding. This followed by the six and final etiquette, the wedding itself.

Feng Shui 3 Legged Frog

I live in Malaysia which is a multi-racial country. It is always interesting to know how the different races perceive each other. In a survey conducted recently the result shows that a large percentage of the other races think that the Chinese are greedy! While this is definitely not true, at least not from the Chinese perspective, I can think of at least one reason why they perceive so.


When two Chinese meet, it is customary for one to inquire whether the other has eaten. Food is after all very important to the Chinese. But what is next? It is usually, “Did you make any good money recently?” or “Do you have any good money making opportunity?”! This is probably the reason why they think the Chinese are greedy.

This perception is further reinforced by the many Chinese symbols of good fortune and wealth that is found in many Chinese homes. You may have heard of the Pi Xiu or Dragon Dog and its ability to pull in wealth. There is also the Three Legged Feng Shui Frog (with and without the ancient Chinese coin in the mouth), the Fu, Lu & Shou (Happiness, Wealth and Longevity) trio, God of Wealth and so on.

This brings me to the topic of Feng Shui. My clients know that I do not use such items in my Feng Shui practice. The reason is that Feng Shui is about ‘qi’, while these items of good luck are not.

But do they work? In my opinion, they work but not in the magical way that most people think. Here is what I think.

Symbols can influence the human sub-conscious mind. Let’s take the Three Legged Feng Shui Frog. If you believe that it can help you to accumulate money, this belief can get imprinted in your sub-conscious over time. The sub-conscious then affects then affects the conscious mind which in turn affects out action. We go out to make and accumulate more money!

Let’s take another example of the drawing of carps. Carps, in Chinese sounds a bit like abundance. Having a drawing of carps hanging on a wall in the dining area gives the message to the sub-conscious that there is abundance. This in turn can influence the conscious mind and tell it that there is abundance which is a positive emotion.

Feng Shui? No. But does it work? Maybe.

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Dragon and Pi Xiu

In eastern society, the dragon is regarded as a source of natural energy, authority, prosperity and longevity. They symbol of the dragon was also frequently used by past Chinese emperors to signify status and prestige. Many dynasties use the dragon to symbolize invincibility. Obviously it did not work for them.

Chinese Dragon
Chinese Dragon

Nowadays, many people place the dragon symbol or image in their homes as a decorative item with the hope that it will intensify the positive energy within.

Unlike the Western dragon which is a fire breathing animal, the Chinese dragon is a water animal. Therefore the best place to put the dragon is near a water features such as a water fountain or aquarium. Placing them in a dry location will be disastrous (so they say).

Some people also believe that the dragon can be placed in the north as the north sector is associated with the element of water.

In the combination and clash of the earthly branch, Chen (dragon) clash with Xu (dog). This has lead many people to believe that those born in the year of the dog should not have dragon symbols in their home.

I have a good friend who is born in the year of the dragon and she happens to be a successful dog trainer. Maybe the other around is okay!

What about the Pi Xiu (Pi Yao)? Is it a dragon or a dog?

The Pi Xiu is a mythical animal and has the head of a dragon and the body of a lion (or dog). It is a fierce animal and is believed to be able to gobble up all types of demons and evil spirits. In ancient China, they are used to guard the tombs of the emperors!

Aside from gobbling up demons and evil spirit, it also absorbs wealth from all directions. It signifies inflow without any outflow and this is why businessmen placed them in the office and home facing the door with the hope that it will bring in wealth in abundance.

Aside from ‘proper’ wealth, the Pi Xiu (Pi Yao) is also believed to bring windfall or ‘improper’ wealth which is why it is often seen in at money lender’s office, massage parlours, gambling joints and other similar centres.

Finally the Pi Xiu is also regarded as capable of absorbing ‘sha’ and this is why many dwellers located at a T or Y junctions, place a pair with their heads facing the front door.

Note: As a rule I do not use Chinese Good Luck symbols in my Feng Shui practice but this should not stop you from placing them for your own enjoyment.

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Music Therapy & The Five Elements

A lesser known alternative treatment in Chinese Medicine is music therapy. The ancient Chinese did a considerable amount of research in it and with the growing acceptance of alternative treatment traditional Chinese music therapy has gained much exposure.


There are five notes in ancient Chinese music namely Gong, Shang, Jiao, Zhi and Yu. They roughly match with the tones of do, re, mi, la and so respectively.

Each of these notes is also match with an element from the Five Elements and an organ (zang) in the body.

The note Gong (do) is associated with the earth element and the spleen. It is mediating in nature and gives a sense of calm and seriousness. The notes can be used to treat someone who has been given a fright.

The note Shang (re) is associated with the metal element and the lungs. It is clearing in nature and gives a sense of quietness. The notes can be used to treat someone suffering from anxiety and irritability.

The note Jiao (mi) is associated with the wood element and the liver. It is soothing in nature and gives a sense of comfort and relaxation. The notes can be used to dispel anger.

The note Zhi (sol) is associated with the element fire and the heart. It is invigorating in nature and gives a sense of excitement and passion. The note can be use to treat someone suffering from depression.

Finally the note Yu (la) is associated with the element water and the kidneys. It is cooling and moistening in nature and has a sedative effect. The note can be use to treat insomnia caused by excessive joy or sorrow.

Try playing the notes above and see if it gives you the senses described above. You may be pleasantly surprises.

The ancient Chinese believe that music can shape a man. Conversely, it is possible to read a person’s character based on the music that he plays or listen to!

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Origins of Chinese Surnames

According to the Grand Dictionary of Chinese Surnames, there are over 11,000 Chinese surnames in recorded history. However many of them have become obsolete. Currently over 3000 of them are still in use but common ones number slightly over 500.

How are these surnames created? Here are some of the ways.

In ancient society, primitive men develop special relationship with natural and animal objects. As time went by, some of these objects were adopted as surnames, example Xiong (bear) or Feng (phoenix).

Others adopt the name of the state or place that they live in or originate from. Examples include Song and Wei.

A common method is to use the name of one’s occupation. For example a potter may use the name Tao (meaning pottery).

Some would adopt the title of official post either in full or partially. For example the ancient title of the Minister of War is SiMa. It was adopted in whole as a surname. Over time the surname was simplified to either Si or Ma.

Yet another way is to adopt the name of surrounding landmarks. For example some who live near a pond may adopt the surname Chi (meaning pond). Others living near a mountain or river may adopt the surname Shan (meaning mountain) or Jiang (meaning river) respectively.

It is also not uncommon to adopt the name of their grand ancestors in order to commemorate them.

In ancient times children were called certain names to indicate their seniority. For example the eldest is called Bo followed by Zhong (for the second), Shu (for the third) and Ji (for the fourth). These were later adopted as surnames.

Some were conferred special surnames by the Emperor in honor of the outstanding services rendered to the courts. By the same token some who have annoyed the Emperor are given bad surnames such as Shao (meaning spider) and Fu (meaning poisonous snake).

Surnames are also adopted from colors e.g. Hong (meaning red) and Zi (meaning violet or purple). Others from position e.g. Dong (meaning east) and Zuo (meaning left).

They are also adopted from seasons e.g. Chun (meaning Spring) and Dong (meaning Winter) and from the names of ancient dynasties such as the Xia, Zhou or Han dynasties.

Surnames are also adopted from plants and insects. Examples include Hua (meaning flowers), Tao (meaning peach), Chong (meaning worm) or Yi (meaning ant).

This may surprise you but surnames are also adopted from numbers. Examples are Ling (meaning zero), San (meaning 3), Shi (meaning 10), Qian (meaning thousand) and so on.

The methods that I have described above are no means exhaustive and there are many others ways that surnames were derived.

You can find a list showing the 100 most popular Chinese surnames in the Chinese Almanac or Tung Shu or Tong Sing.

Have fun unravelling your own!

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Chinese Baby Girl’s Name

Chinese parents (at least in ancient times) have different aspiration for their daughters and the basis for selection Chinese baby girl names are different from that for the boys.

A good daughter should respect their parents and love their brothers and sisters. There are also expected to take care of their family and be good at housekeeping.

In addition to being filial, virtuous, gentle and chaste, they are also expected to be intelligent, graceful, sedate and pretty.

Finally they should get along well with the neighbours.

To put it another way, daughters should have both inner beauty and attractive appearance.

That is a lot to expect and the appropriate Chinese baby girl name would help a lot to get on the right step!

Baby Girl Names Selection Methodology

Based on the above expectations, parent would name their baby girl using words that would convey the following meanings. (I have provide the Chinese characters and meaning in the examples below).

Virtue and Tenderness

e.g. Ai 爱 meaning ‘love’
e.g. Pin 品 meaning ‘moral integrity’
e.g. Shu 淑 meaning ‘kind-hearted’

Feminine Beauty

e.g. Li 丽 meaning ‘pretty’
e.g. Lan 兰 meaning ‘orchid’
e.g. Mei 美 meaning ‘beautiful’

Intelligence (Feminine Style)

e.g. Wen 文 meaning ‘knowledge’
e.g. Ling 灵 meaning ‘agile’
e.g. Fei 非 meaning ‘fly’ to describe nimbleness

Gracefulness and Elegance

e.g. Zhuang 庄 meaning ‘dignified’
e.g. An 安 meaning ‘sedate’
e.g. Jie 洁 meaning ‘noble’

Another technique of naming is by using elements. The elements of metal and fire are associated with the baby boy while the elements of wood and water with the female. The earth element can be used by both boys and girls.

Words that begin with the characters c, q, r, s, x, or z in the Hanyu Pinyin system belongs to the metal element. Examples include Cai 才 meaning ‘talent’, Qi 起 meaning ‘rise’, Ren 仁 meaning ‘humanity’, Shi 师 meaning ‘master’, Xiang 香 meaning ‘fragrant’ and Zhen 真 meaning ‘true’.

Words that begin with the characters g or k belong to the wood element. Characters like Gan 甘 meaning ‘sweet’ and Ke 科 meaning ‘science’ are examples of wood element words.

Words that begin with b, f, h, m or p belong to the water elements. Examples include Bai 白 meaning ‘white’, Fang 方 meaning ‘square’, He 和meaning ‘gentle’, Man 满meaning ‘full’ and Peng 朋 meaning ‘friend’.

Words that begin with d, j, l, n and t belong to the fire element. Characters like Dao 导meaning ‘guide’, Ji 季 meaning ‘season’, Li 理 meaning ‘logic’, Ning 宁 meaning ‘peaceful’ and Tian 天 meaning ‘heaven’ are examples of fire element words.

Finally words that begin with a, w, y, e or o belong to the earth element. Examples include Ai 爱meaning ‘love’, Wu 武 meaning ‘military’, Ye 业 meaning business and En 恩meaning ‘favor’.

Chinese baby boys name can have names made up of an earth + fire, earth + metal, fire + fire or metal + metal combinations. Examples include An Dao 安道, an earth + fire or Yi Shu 艺书, an earth + metal combinations.

Chinese baby girls name on the other hand would combine water + wood, wood + water, water + water, earth + earth or wood + wood. Examples include Ge Feng 歌风 a wood + water combination and Bai Fang 白方 a water + water combination.

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Chinese Baby Boy Names

One of the more popular methods of naming a baby boy is based on the parent’s aspiration for the child.

Parents (at least in the old days) have different expectation of their sons and daughters and hence there are differences in the methods of selecting Chinese baby boy names and Chinese baby girl names.

The role of men in the family is to assume duties and responsibilities and in some cases to carry on the family business. In the old days, they (also) have to bring honour to their ancestors, uphold traditions and devote himself to his country and people.

A good man is also expected to have good moral character and be broad-minded. In addition he should also be strong and healthy.

Baby Naming Methodology

All parents also wish that their sons become ambitious and blessed with wisdom and capabilities.

On the basis of their parent’s expectation, their role in the family and the characteristic traits, Chinese baby boy names should express the following ideas. (I have provided examples with the Chinese characters and their meanings).

Bring Honour to the Family and Ancestor

e.g. Jia 家 meaning ‘family’
e.g. Zu 组 meaning ‘ancestor’
e.g. Ting 庭 meaning ‘clan’

Carry on the Family Business

e.g. Ye 业 meaning ‘family property’
e.g. Chang 昌 meaning ‘prosper’
e.g. Shao 绍 meaning ‘carry on’

Have High Ambitions

e.g. Zhi 志 meaning ‘aspiration’
e.g. Kai 开 meaning ‘open, develop’
e.g. Jin 进 meaning ‘forward, progress’

Be of Noble Character

e.g. De 德 meaning ‘virtue’
e.g. Dao 道 meaning ‘moral’
e.g. Zheng 正 meaning ‘upright’

Serve the People and Nation

e.g. Guo 国 meaning ‘country’
e.g. Shi 世 meaning ‘society’
e.g. Ji 济 meaning ‘rescue’

Have Strong Will Power

e.g. Li 力 meaning ‘strength’
e.g. Zi 自meaning ‘independent’
e.g. Yong 永 meaning ‘persistent’

Can Assume Responsibility

e.g. Zhong 重 meaning ‘heavy’
e.g. Zhu 主 meaning ‘undertake’
e.g. Dang 当 meaning ‘carry’

Strong Physique and Good Health

e.g. Shan 山 meaning ‘dignified’
e.g. Jian 建 meaning ‘healthy’
e.g. Gao 高 meaning ‘tall’


e.g. Xiao 笑 meaning ‘laugh’
e.g. Liang 亮 meaning ‘bright, open’
e.g. Kong 空 meaning ‘spacious’

Have Wisdom and Ability

e.g. Cai 才 meaning ‘talent’
e.g. Xue 学 meaning ‘learning’
e.g. Shu 书 meaning ‘books

And this is how Chinese baby boys end up with names like these!

Watch out for my next article on Chinese baby girl names.

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Facial Moles and their Meaning

There are many ancient Chinese face reading texts on moles and their meanings. You can find an explanation for every conceivable mole on your face and body.

In this article I will however focus on common facial moles and explain the meaning behind these moles.

Busybody Mole

Busy Body Mole
Busy Body Mole

The Busybody mole is a mole on the right or left side of the chin between the lower lip and the tip of the chin. This is commonly known as the busy body mole. It belongs with someone with an inquisitive nature. Being inquisitive is not a bad thing but it is easy to cross the line and that is when he/she become nosy – hence a busybody. As a rule the bigger the mole the more inquisitive one is.

Obstruct Career and Husband Mole

Obstruct Career & Husband Mole
Obstruct Career & Husband Mole

The Obstruct Career and Husband mole is a mole in the centre of the forehead. This area is also the career palace and governs a person’s career luck. It translates to problems in one’s career, obstacles and inability to move up the ranks. Since the forehead also governs one’s luck between the ages of 15 and 30, it also means that your career luck can only get better after 30. In the old days the career palace is only important for men but these days it applies to the lady as well. For a lady, a mole on the forehead also infers poor marriage luck. She may have an unhappy marriage or have poor affinity with the husband.

Ill Health Mole

Ill Health Mole
Ill Health Mole

The Ill Health mole is a mole on the nose bridge. This area is also known as the health palace. It reflects the quality of one’s health. A mole there shows poor health, a weak immune system and a lingering or long term illness.

Eating God Mole

Eating God Mole
Eating God Mole

The Eating God mole is a mole on the left or right corner of the upper lip. This is called the ‘Eating God’ mole. People with such moles enjoy good food. They will seek out good food and often do not need to pay for them! Actually their good luck is not limited to food. It also includes the finer things in life such as wine, women and song!

Lose Wealth Mole

Lose Wealth Mole
Lose Wealth Mole

The Lose Wealth mole is a mole on the tip of the nose. Also included in the Lose Wealth mole is moles on the nose wing (left and right side of the nose tip). The nose tip is also known as the wealth palace and it governs the storage of wealth. A mole here shows blockage or leakage and signifies a wealth related problem. Persons with Lose Wealth mole will find it difficult to save money or lose money easily. In general, the bigger the mole the bigger is the problem.

Save Wealth Mole

Save Wealth Mole
Save Wealth Mole

The Save Wealth mole is the opposite of the Lose Wealth mole. It is located just underneath or next to the nose wings. People with such moles can save money and tend to have substantial savings. They can also attract wealth. The mole serves like a guard protecting nose tip which is also the wealth palace.

Pearl Covered by Grass Mole

Pearl Grass Mole
Pearl Grass Mole

The Pearl Covered by Grass mole is a mole hidden in the eyebrow. It shows treasure or talent that is hidden. It infers an individual with strong character and perseverance that is willing to work hard to achieve his goals. And after much effort his ability is revealed and goals achieved.

Crying Mole

Crying Mole
Crying Mole

The Crying mole is a mole located directly on the eye bag. It signifies emotional issues and people with such moles are usually and very easily affected by emotional problems. They also tend to worry too much.

There are a lot of other moles and meanings but these are the well-known ones. Check out the moles on your friend’s face and see if their character or fortune matches the description above. Have fun!

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Do you Have a Big Mouth?

In Chinese face reading, a big mouth suggest a extroverted personality while a small mouth belongs to an introvert.

So how big is big? Or how small is small?

The answer lies in the diagram below. The two vertical lines through the centre of the iris act as a guide. If the width of the mouth exceeds the boundary of these two vertical lines, then the mouth is considered big. If it is well within the boundary of these two vertical lines then it is considered small. Otherwise it is considered normal size.

Big or Small Mouth
Big or Small Mouth

While on the subject of the mouth, what do the thickness of the upper and lower lips signify. In Chinese face reading, the upper lip govern compassion. A person with thick upper lip is more willing to help others and can empathize better with those they deal with. A person with thin upper lip, on the other hand, do not express their feelings well, lack empathy and can be mistaken as uncaring or cruel.


What about the lower lip? It governs sexual desire. Thick lower lip suggest strong sexual desire while a thinner one suggest the opposite.

Are Your Eyebrows Far Apart?

In Chinese face reading, eyebrows that are far apart suggest open mindedness while narrow set eyebrows suggest a close and revengeful mindset.

But how open is open? Or how close is close.

The eyebrows are wide apart if two or more fingers can fit within the space between the eyebrows. Two fingers is considered wide enough while three is considered very wide. One finger space or less is considered narrow. 

Wide or Narrow Set Eyebrow
Wide or Narrow Set Eyebrow

What about the Eyes?

Eyes that are set closed together suggest focus and concentration. Those with such close set eyes are also less tolerant but have better concentration. They are more comfortable working on one task at a time and can focus on it for a longer period.

Wide or Narrow Set Eyes
Wide or Narrow Set Eyes

On the others hand, those with wide set eyes belong to someone who is more tolerant. They cannot focus for too long on a single task and are more comfortable handle many tasks at the same time that do not require a lot of concentration.

But how close is considered close?

This time we measure the width of each eye. First measure the width of one eye. Then compare the space between the eyes. If the space within the eyes is equal to or more that the width of an eye then it is considered wide. If the space between the eyes is less that the wide an eye, then it is considered narrow.

Now the Forehead

A high forehead suggest intelligence. If the forehead is fleshy and without any bums or dents or marks, and wide, it suggest good luck with career, support from parents and likely good travel or migration luck.

But how high is high?

The fingers come into play again. If the space between the hairline (before it starts receding) and the top of the eyebrow is three or more finger width high, it is considered high. Two or less is considered low and suggest poor luck with career and lack of support from parents.

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download

Do you have a Good Pair of Ears?

In Chinese Face Reading, the ears denotes a person’s luck between the ages of 1 and 15. The forehead on the other hand denotes a person’s luck between the ages of 15 and 30. Therefore a good pair of ears and a good forehead suggest good luck in the early years before 30.

But what is a good pair of ears? What constitute a good forehead?

In Chinese face reading, a good ear is one where the outer and inner ridges are properly formed. The ears should also be larger rather than smaller. Very small ears and improperly formed ridges suggest misfortune at young age.

Pointy ears suggest emotional trauma that is likely caused by the parents e.g. divorce while chipped ears and thin ears (with little or no ridges) also suggest emotional disturbance at a young age that may caused problems later in life.

The ears should also be a lighter shade than the face. Ears that are darker than the face suggest illness or emotional issues that again may have an effect later in life.

Ears should also be set high on the face, as high or higher than the eyebrows. It suggest intelligence and attaining success and fame at a young age. It also suggest good health and obedience.

The ancient Chinese also prefer ears that stick to the head rather than protruding (like Mickey Mouse) as it suggest a conformist character that is easier to bring up.

Finally it is better to have ears that are softer rather than harder.

But what about the forehead?

The forehead governs a person’s luck between the ages of 15 and 30. A good forehead is one that is high and wide that is free from blemishes. It suggest intelligence, success in study and a good career.

A low set forehead, narrow forehead, scarred forehead or one with bumps or lumps is considered bad and brings bad luck, challenges and obstacles between 15 and 30.

The eyebrows, eyes, nose and cheeks denotes a person’s luck between the ages of 30 and 50.

A good pair of eyebrows is one that is orderly, not broken and not too sparse or too thick. Sparse eyebrows or one that is too thick suggest difficulties in relationships.

Eyes should be symmetrical and balanced. They should not be too large or too small. The eyes is a window into the soul and therefore should be spirited or appear to have energy. Bad eyes suggest fluctuating luck, and problems with career and relationship challenges.

The cheeks should not protrude too much or appear sunken. Excessively protruding cheeks suggest a dominating personality while sunken cheeks suggest and overly passive character.

The philtrum, mouth, lips and chin denotes a person’s luck between the ages 50 and 70. The philtrum should be long and clearly defined. It suggest an energetic personality. Lips should not be too thick or thin and while the mouth should be not too small or large. A small mouth suggest a introverted personality while a large mouth suggest the opposite.

What about the chin and jaws? A good chin is one that is broad, fleshy and round. It suggest prosperity and support from family and friends. A sharp pointy chin is not favourable and suggest loneliness at old age.

So now you know. Get a mirror and check out you face!

Feng Shui Buy House Guide
Click here to Download