The Chinese have very specific traditions and beliefs that have shaped their lives for thousands of years. The beliefs may be different from those in other countries but all countries have their own similar or peculiar traditions.
The Chinese believe in the life force called the Qui (Chee). This is the air or the breath emanating from the earth's surface which they think can influence the fate of human beings. There is negative and positive chee - good luck or or bad luck.
To the Chinese, the landscape is alive and gives off these life-giving and/or life-influencing energies and could be termed 'the breath of life'.
Another very prominent life-influencing belief is Feng Shui (wind and water) an ancient belief that links the destiny of humans to the elements. Its chief purpose is to ensure that people live in harmony with their surroundings; that everything is done to use the environs in harmony with nature and that nothing is done to negatively impact the environment which has been created over millions of years.
We in Jamaica sometimes talk about 'bad breeze' or 'good breeze' which some believe has the power to influence health and temper. Some make sure to protect their babies, in particular, from the 'bad breeze'.
The Chinese believe that the right use of the environment depends on the proper application of the Feng Shui, so the placement of buildings and structures in the landscape must be done carefully, observing the Feng Shui principles if the business or residence or school is to be successful and the occupants healthy.
The placement of windows and doors as well as all furniture and fixtures must be done according to Feng Shui dictates.
For example, beds must not be placed below a window but may face the window so the good Feng Shui will blow on the sleepers. The front door must not be placed directly opposite from the back door as the 'good breeze' will blow right through. When this cannot be avoided, then a screen must be placed near the back door.
Incidentally, this has given rise to a great industry as screens of varying designs and artistic beauty are one of China's prides. Some screens are elaborate works of art while others are simple and functional. These screens are called Pinn Fung (in the Hakka language meaning hold wind). Even when not necessary for holding the wind, they are used as decorations.
In large cities, towns and villages throughout China, the advice of Feng Shui experts is sought by architects, planners and farmers and persons refuse to erect even the simplest building without it.
In rural Jamaica, some time ago, a man decided to build his new house on one of the two rises on his property which were about 20 yards apart and a cowshed on the other. His Chinese friend who knew something about Feng Shui advised him that according to Chinese principles, the rise on which the cowshed had been built was the better place to build his house. His friend laughed at him saying that was Chinese lore and did not apply to Jamaica so he ignored the advice and proceeded to build his dream house. A few months later, a freak storm came. The partially finished roof of the new house was severely damaged by the breeze but the roof of the makeshift cowshed remained intact.
The Feng Shui advice was right even in Jamaica. When we see how badly we sometimes abuse our surroundings, we could do well with paying attention to the Chee and Feng Shui principles embraced by the Chinese.
- Courtesy of the Jamaica China Friendship Association