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Feng Shui Coins

The Chinese believe that there is a primal life force called qi (气) which flows naturally in the earth and in the human body. When there are obstacles to this flow, bad things can happen.

To cure obstructions of the flow of qi in the body, an acupuncturist uses needles.

Tomb figure from a Southern Song dynasty tomb of a Feng Shui Master holding a geomantic compass (luopan)
Tomb figure from
Southern Song dynasty
showing Feng Shui Master
holding geomantic compass
(luopan 罗盘)
To prevent the flow of qi through the earth from being disrupted by changes on its surface made by man, the Chinese developed a system known as feng shui (风水). Feng shui literally means "wind and water".

Through the use of feng shui techniques, such as the geomantic compass (luopan 罗盘), in the siting of a house and the placing of the objects within, a Feng Shui Master can help the qi flow with minimal obstruction.

Feng Shui Masters also recommend the use of old Chinese coins to enhance the feng shui of a house. The coins provide protection and promote good fortune.

This article will discuss what respected Feng Shui Masters in China consider to be the best Chinese coins to use to improve the feng shui of a house and their reasons why.

For additional information on how to protect a home using feng shui techniques and old Chinese charms, please also see The Chinese House, Good Fortune and Harmony with Nature.

Why Chinese Coins Are Important to Feng Shui

Because of their very nature, Chinese coins have always played an important role in feng shui for a number of reasons:

1. The Chinese coin is a form of money and represents good fortune, wealth and prosperity.

Importantly, coins are made of metal. In Chinese philosophy, metal is one of the wuxing (五行) known as the Five Elements or Five Phases. (There is even an ancient Chinese coin with the inscription "Large Coin of the Five Elements" (五行大布).

Old Chinese coins are usually made of copper and copper is better able to absorb aura than either gold or silver.

2. The Chinese coin is one of the "Eight Treasures" (babao 八宝).

3. Chinese coins reflect ancient Chinese philosophy concerning the relationship of the heavens, earth, and man.

In ancient Chinese philosophy, the sky is round and the earth is square. Old Chinese coins are similarly shaped. They are round with a square hole in the middle.

These coins are sometimes referred to as "cash coins".

Moreover, the coins frequently have the name of the emperor in the inscription. The inscription is placed in the area between the square hole and the round rim.

The emperor was the representative of man on earth.

Therefore, old Chinese coins display the relationship of the heavens (round) and earth (square) with man (emperor) standing in between. Having all three in their proper relationship gives Chinese coins great power in feng shui.

4. Chinese coins cast during times when the empire was strong carry the message of "prosperity and development" (兴旺发达) and "suppression of evils" (镇压百邪).

5. Chinese coins as a form of currency passed through the hands of millions of people over the course of hundreds of years. The coins absorbed and concentrated the power of all these people into a very small object.

Also, throughout Chinese history many of these coins may have been used for feng shui purposes at some time. This means that they would have been buried according to feng shui practices in the best places where the wind, water and earth forces were strongest.

Coins have thus always been a potent instrument in feng shui.

How to Select Chinese Coins for Feng Shui

Feng Shui Masters (风水师) in China emphasize that the traditional Chinese "cash coins" can provide protection from evil and promote good fortune but that not just any cash coin will do. Only certain coins should be selected.

There are three factors to consider in regard to how effective a Chinese coin will be in warding off evil and bringing forth good luck and fortune:

1. The first consideration has to do with the quality of the coin's metal. Chinese coins were not cast from pure copper but rather from a mixture. Metal objects themselves can have evil spirits. These evil spirits in the metal can, to a certain extent, reduce the effectiveness of the coin in suppressing ghosts. True Feng Shui Masters are atune to this phenomenon.

For example, there is a classical superstition that if a person is having nightmares, he should place a kitchen knife or a pair of scissors under his pillow. In so doing, the person should not suffer nightmares again.

However, these metal objects have evil spirits within and because they are being placed so close to the head they will harm a person's soul to no small measure. For this reason, a person should not employ this method unless the nightmares are truly severe.

2. The second factor to consider in how appropriate a Chinese coin will be for feng shui has to do with how many people may have already used the coin.

In general, it is better for more people to have handled the coin.

However, the yang qi (阳气) in old coins that circulated among many people for a very long time can become contaminated. This could lessen how effective the coin may be in suppressing evil.

Feng Shui Masters are able to determine this and have methods to mitigate the issue.

Incidentally, while the physical appearance of a coin may be an important factor to a coin dealer or collector, Feng Shui Masters say that for feng shui purposes it makes no difference if a coin shows a lot of wear or not.

Qing Dynasty 'Kang Xi Tong Bao' Coin
Qing Dynasty
'Kang Xi Tong Bao' Coin

3. The third factor to consider is when a particular coin was produced. It is important to pick a coin that was produced during a period when the dynasty was in ascendancy.

Coins produced when the military power and economy of the empire were on the rise will contain a certain amount of positive energy (yang qi).

For example, some of the most desired coins for feng shui purposes are those that were minted by the Kangxi Emperor (康熙帝).

The Kangxi Emperor reigned from 1661 to 1722 of the Qing dynasty (清朝).

Shown at the left is a kang xi tong bao (康熙通宝) coin cast during his reign.

The 61 year-long reign of the Kangxi Emperor, the longest in Chinese history, was a period of long-term stability, military success and economic prosperity.

Also, because his reign lasted an entire sixty-year cycle of the traditional Chinese calendar, the kang xi tong bao coins represent "longevity" and are considered among the most effective for feng shui purposes.

Song Dynasty 'Da Guan Tong Bao' Coin
Song Dynasty
'Da Guan Tong Bao' Coin

Other good examples of coins to buy for feng shui purposes are those from the Song dynasty.

Many Feng Shui Masters recommend buying coins of the Song dynasty (宋朝 960 - 1279).

But, not all Song dynasty coins are appropriate for feng shui use.

Remember that it is important to only buy coins that were produced during times when the country's military power was on the rise and the economy was improving.

Coins such as the da guan tong bao (大观通宝) cast during the da guan years (1107-1110) of the reign of Emperor Hui Zong (宋徽宗) of the Northern Song dynasty are considered good for feng shui because the military and economy were strong and there was peace inside and outside the borders.

However, during the last years (xuan he 宣和年间) of his reign (1119-1125), the Song dynasty experienced tremendous turmoil and suffered serious decline. For this reason, coins such as the xuan he tong bao (宣和通宝) cast during these years are not considered desirable for feng shui.

When selecting coins it is not sufficient to only buy old and authentic coins from a dynasty. One must also consider which coins of the dynasty would be appropriate.

Coins that Should Not Be Used for Feng Shui

It is important to note that coins that fail to meet the above three conditions could be a source of harm instead of good.

To prevent selecting coins that attract evil as opposed to warding off evil, Feng Shui Masters warn of three situations to avoid.

1. You want to avoid choosing coins that have been dug up from graves or tombs.

There are many, many fake coins available in the antique markets of China's major cities.

For feng shui purposes, you want to only use old and authentic Chinese coins.

Among the "real" coins sold in these markets, it is estimated that about 30% have been excavated from graves. Professional antique dealers refer to these as "lao keng goods" (老坑的货). "Lao keng" (老坑) refers to a cemetery and coins obtained in this way are described as coming "from the pits".

In the last five years, many old and valuable Chinese coins that previously were rarely seen can now be bought in these antique markets. Of course, the fake coins still greatly outnumber the real coins so buyers must be very cautious.

The reason for the recent appearance of these rare coins is that many ancient tombs have had to be excavated to allow for construction of highways and high-speed rail.

Unless a person is an experienced collector of ancient Chinese coins, it is very difficult to determine whether a coin might be from a grave or not. For this reason, it is not recommended to go to an antique market and personally buy old coins to use for feng shui purposes in the home.

How can you avoid buying coins that have come from a grave?

2. Feng Shui Masters say you should not use coins produced by rebellions or minority regimes. A few examples would be coins from the Xi Xia Dynastry (1032-1227), Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) and Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864).

The reasons these coins are not suitable are as follows.

3. Some Chinese coins are old but were only produced for a short period of time and circulated in only a very small region.

Feng Shui Masters do not recommend these coins.

The reason is that it is better to use old coins that have been handled by many people.

Coins that are old but have not been handled by many people are considered by Feng Shui Masters to be "no better than just a piece of common copper".

Replica Coins Are Not Suitable for Feng Shui

Modern "fake" and "replica" coins, like those shown below, are sold everywhere on the internet and in Chinatowns. These replica coins are not suitable for feng shui purposes.

Replica (fake) Five Emperor Coins
Replica (fake) Five Emperor Coins

These coins are not old. They were probably made in the last few years or even the last few months.

Replica coins are not suitable for feng shui because they do not meet the qualifications discussed above.

1. Replica coins were not produced during the time of the Chinese emperors and therefore do not carry any inherent legitimacy or authority.

In fact, they are not really a "coin" and have never been used as money in the marketplace.

These coins are produced in huge quantities at very low cost and can be made to look like any coin from China's ancient past.

By adding fake patina or making them look "worn", the coins can be made to look "old". People who are not expert coin collectors are easily deceived into thinking they are buying an authentic "old" coin when, in fact, the coin is quite new.

2. Since the coins are new, they never circulated through the hands of millions of people over several centuries and therefore have no concentrated yang qi.

3. None of these fake coins have been handled by Feng Shui Masters and therefore have no history of previously being used for feng shui purposes.

Replica and fake coins are no more than "lumps of copper". They do not meet any of the conditions that would make them suitable for feng shui purposes.

Why Five Emperor Coins Are Good for Feng Shui

Authentic (Real) Specimens of the Five Emperor Coins
Authentic ("Real") Specimens of
the Five Emperor Coins

Certain coins from the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1912) are very commonly used for feng shui.

Particularly popular are the "Five Emperor Coins" (五帝钱), sometimes also referred to as the "Five Emperor Money Coins". The Five Emperors refer to the first five emperors of the Qing dynasty: Shunzhi (顺治), Kangxi (康熙), Yongzheng (雍正), Qianlong (乾隆) and Jiaqing (嘉庆).

Authentic coins, like those shown at the left, were produced during the reign of these five emperors. These coins are considered very desirable for feng shui use because both military power and the economy were in the ascendancy at the time.

Additionally, the inscriptions on these coins reflect the qualities desired in feng shui coins as discussed below.

1. The inscription (shun zhi 顺治) on the Shunzhi Emperor coin translates as "to rule smoothly".

2. The inscription (kang xi 康熙) on the Kangxi Emperor coin means "healthy and prosperous".

3. The inscription (yong zheng 雍正) on the Yongzheng Emperor coin translates as "harmony and upright".

4. The inscription (qian long 乾隆) on the Qianlong Emperor coin, like the Chinese characters on the other Five Emperor coins, is the "era name" of this emperor.

However, this inscription can also be interpreted as a pun.

These two characters are pronounced exactly the same as the characters for "money" (qian 钱) and "dragon" (long 龙).

Having an inscription on a coin that sounds like "money" and "dragon" is considered very auspicious!

This qian long "pun" was recognized during the time the Qianlong Emperor was in power and a real "money dragon" ("coin dragon") was secretly hidden in the Forbidden Palace. Please see Coin Dragon for a detailed discussion.

5. The inscription (jia qing 嘉庆) on the Jiaqing Emperor coin translates as "good and celebrate".

Qing Dynasty 'Qian Long Tong Bao' Coin
Qing Dynasty
'Qian Long Tong Bao' Coin

For the reason discussed above, coins cast during the Qianlong Emperor's reign are considered particularly desirable.

A very large quantity of the qian long tong bao coins were cast during the sixty years of his reign.

However, their size and quality gradually deteriorated.

For this reason, Feng Shui Masters have a recommendation concerning the qian long tong bao (乾隆通宝) coins.

It is best to select coins that are approximately the same size and thickness.

Shown at the left is a qian long tong bao coin cast during the years 1733-1796 of the Qianlong Emperor.

Six Emperor Coins and Ten Emperor Coins Are Not Suitable for Feng Shui

Over the past few years, dealers selling feng shui coins have been promoting "Six Emperor Coins" ("Five Emperor" coins plus the coins of the Daoguang Emperor (道光帝)) and even "Ten Emperor Coins". They are adding the coins from the Qing dynasty emperors that followed the Jiaqing Emperor.

The rationale is if a set of coins from five emperors is "good", then a set from six or even ten emperors is "better".

Unfortunately, coins from the later Qing dynasty emperors are not suitable for feng shui because in the years following the first five emperors, China gradually fell into serious dynastic decline. Imperial China, which had existed for more than 2,000 years, ended in 1911.

Feng Shui Coins Can Be Worn for Protection

Besides being placed in the home, feng shui coins can also be worn on the person.

The hole in the middle of the coin makes it convenient to wear and provide personal protection from ghosts and other evils.

Feng Shui Masters recommend that a suitable coin be attached to a red cord or ribbon and worn around the neck like a necklace.

The color red is considered very auspicious. Red represents joy and is widely used for marriages and other festive occasions.

Also, the pronunciation of the Chinese character for "red" (hong 红) is the same as for the characters for "great" (hong 宏) and "vast" (hong 洪).

This means that the power of a feng shui coin tied with a red cord will be enhanced through the phonetic pun of "great" and "vast".

It is very important that the ends of the red cord be tied together with a knot (活结) that can be easily untied by simply pulling one end.

This kind of knot is sometimes referred to as a "slip knot".

The reason for using a slip knot that can be easily undone by pulling one end is because the coin must be able to fall off "automatically".

If you wear a feng shui coin around the neck, with the ends of the red cord tied together with a slip knot, and the coin should suddenly fall, this means there is a powerful evil force nearby and you need to leave the area immediately.

Feng Shui Masters stress that wearing a coin in this manner will provide a very good warning system.

Where to Place Feng Shui Coins in the House

Evil spirits outside a house will try to enter through gates, doors and windows. Placement of feng shui coins in the home usually means putting them near the gates and doors.

For example, an effective means of protection can be achieved by burying the Five Emperor Coins under the threshold of the house. The coins should be arranged in the proper order: Shunzhi, Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong and Jiaqing.

However, "burying" coins may not be convenient for people living in apartment buildings. In this case, the coins can be hidden under a small carpet near the door.

It is also permissible to hang the coins on the door or door handle.

According to the Feng Shui Masters, placing the coins near the door like this will prevent evil spirits from being able to rush inside.

Feng Shui Coins in the House Promote Harmony

In traditional China, coins were placed not only to protect the home from evil spirits and to promote wealth and good fortune but also to promote harmony in the household.

For example, placing two old copper coins suitable for feng shui purposes under the pillow was believed to ensure marital harmony.

And as a final example, the Five Emperor Coins were sometimes hung from a yellow cord and placed on the right side of the gate.

The color yellow is associated with the Yellow Emperor (黄帝) and is a potent symbol of imperial rule and authority.

Why hang coins from a yellow cord in this manner?

It was believed that this would help prevent women in the family from being too argumentative or quarrelsome.