One day, a non-Chinese friend asked me for advice on where he should hang a painting. I am no interior designer, but on a large empty wall in the middle of some shelves looks like a good place – it seemed to be the only empty wall after all. To my surprise, he wanted to know whether it is bad luck to hang a painting on a wall with the bathroom behind. I realized my friend needed my advice not because of my aesthetic senses, but because I am Chinese and thus I should be familiar with fengshui (literally translated as wind water). This may have been true for the older generation to whom basic fengshui is like general knowledge. So, it is not surprising that some foreigners may think all Chinese know about fengshui.
Anyone who has been in Macao or Hong Kong for some time would know what fengshui is, though not many people nowadays have much knowledge about it, and we tend to have a different attitude towards fengshui. To some people, fengshui is just superstition without any scientific evidence like astrology or palm reading. Others firmly believe that fengshui at home or at work greatly affects their luck and well-being. I guess most people in the younger generation do not really believe in fengshui, but take a “better safe than sorry” approach about where to place their furniture or other things that bring about good luck, or more importantly, what to avoid for bad luck. I have never really paid attention to the topic until my friend asked. I did some googling and found some interesting fengshui rules regarding pictures.
Firstly, pictures with fierce wild animals have to be handled with care. The head of the animals must face outside of the room. If the head of a tiger, eagle or dragon in a painting faces inside the room, it may bring sickness or accidents to the occupants of the apartment or office. So, be very careful which side of the wall you plan to hang the picture before buying one with fierce animals in it. I don’t know if a Lion King poster counts. And I am not sure how to hang a picture of an animal looking up; maybe sideward, with its head towards the windows?
Secondly, do not hang pictures that are yin (with negative/dark energy), as in yin and yang. But what kind of pictures are considered “yin”? First, I thought of paintings of darkness, tragedy or violence. Then after further googling, I found that it means erotic paintings or pictures of naked people. It is believed that hanging “yin” pictures in the room will affect one’s luck in career development or cause bad relationships between couples. Of course, imagine what would happen to your career if you hang an erotic painting in your office, or to a couple’s relationship if daddy puts up a poster of a porn star in the living room.
The winner amongst picture fengshui rules is that married couples should not put photos of other men or women in the bedroom. Apparently, if photos have to be hung in the bedroom, they should only be photos of the couple. Otherwise, it brings bad luck to the marriage, and leads to possible love affairs outside of marriage. So, don’t put photos of your ex-lovers in the bedroom, as it could ruin your marriage.
I’ve learned that putting up pictures of fierce animals facing the wrong way, erotic pictures in the living room or office, and photos of other men in my bedroom are bad for fengshui. I don’t understand the logic behind the animal painting, but the other two causing bad luck in marriage seems to make a lot of sense. Perhaps some fengshui rules are general knowledge after all.