Superstition – China

The spout of the teapot cannot be pointed at any one person, because its considered very bad luck for the person it is pointed at.


This informant told me that it is an old belief in China that still continues today, and that even in her household (half Chinese) she still practices it. She says that if the spout of the teapot is pointed at one person, the person it is pointed at will have very bad luck. She was not sure exactly where it came from however.

I know that tea is a big part of Chinese culture, being served at nearly every meal, and I can easily see how the teapot gained such folkloric value. I looked up this custom and the importance of tea to the Chinese, and found an old saying, which depicts tea as a necessity. In a travel guide to China, it said, “The Chinese have a saying: ‘Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” (Chinese Tea Culture). This quote obviously shows the extreme importance of tea in the lifestyle of the Chinese, and therefore I can conclude why there is a superstition involving teapots, since it is such a prominent part of Chinese cuisine. This same site also described the relation of tea to the Chinese life as, “Tea is compared to personal character. The fragrance of tea is not aggressive; it is pleasant, low-keyed and lasting. A friendship between gentlemen is also like a cup of tea. With a cup of tea in hand, enjoying the green leaves in a white porcelain cup, you will feel peace. Fame, wealth and other earthly concerns are far away. Tea is the symbol of elegance.” (Chinese Tea Culture) These quotes show why tea is placed as an item of importance in Chinese life, however it does not explain the reasons behind the superstition, and the only thing I could find about relating to this superstition was on an etiquette site, saying, “Make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing a guest. It is impolite to set the teapot down where the spout is facing someone. The spout should always be directed to where no one is sitting, usually just outward from the table” (Cross cultural awareness-social customs). Its interesting to note the difference between the etiquette site and this informant, with one saying the tea spout facing someone is impolite and the other said that it causes bad luck. I think that it is possible that the reason it is considered impolite is because it is bad luck for the person, but that since the website was intended for visitors it was easier to say it was impolite, rather than explain the entire back story of the folklore of China.