Feng Shui


Informant is a Malaysian international student with Chinese ancestry at USC.

Main Piece:

“I had my Feng Shui read by an old lady when I was there [hometown in Fujian]. I have fire, fire, fire, wood, so the Feng Shui master gave me a necklace that’s supposed to be water to balance it out.”


I was discussing Western astrology with a group of friends and my informant, who did not know much about zodiac astrology, started talking about Feng Shui.


Feng Shui is probably one of the most common pieces of Eastern folklore/pseudoscience known to a Western audience, but only in regards to architecture or interior placement (how to design your bedroom, how should your house be facing, etc.). My informant’s piece is more focused on personal astrology, which in its essence, is trying to look into an uncertain/sacred/”other” realm in order to understand oneself better. The necklace my informant receives is an example of a conversion superstition, where something is done to undo the bad luck an action can cause—in this case, to balance out my informant’s energies. While my informant got his necklace for free, selling objects with folk belief attached to them is an easy way to trap unsuspecting people (tourists especially) into buying the objects, especially if the belief attached has same form of connection to the sacred.