“Here is a folk belief: If a window faces a chimney, the chimney would take the spirit and the qi away from the residents of the building with the smoke it generates. Then the people who live inside the building would become sick. The way to solve this is to put a mirror in the room facing the window. This can reflect the smoke out of the building. Or, you can hang a gourd on the window. Because the gourd is arc-shaped, it would lead the smoke to bypass the window.”
Informant is a friend of mine who is currently studying at USC. This piece of folklore is passed down from his family. He mentioned that in his hometown there are similar interpretations of the chimney and the window. He lived in the northern part of China.
Qi, or 气 is a notion in Chinese philosophy and medicine that represents vital energy. It has appeared in many Chinese folk beliefs and serves important elements. It is especially important to older generation people as many of them believe in Chinese medicine, which is a huge combination of field medicine and folk medicine.
This piece is a particularly interesting case in that not only does it provide superstition about windows and chimneys, but it also provided the conversion for getting rid of the influence. The method of the mirror and the gourd are more like magic: create results with separate actions. The solution might be devised by those who actually lived in a house with a window facing a chimney. This shows people’s agency in creating their own folk narratives to protect themselves from superstitious belief. The way to counter superstition is to create another superstition.