Coins in Feng Shui

Mary Constantine, Efren Manjarrez, Ashley Biggins, Heidi Lundblad

The Chinese art of feng shui is said to bring harmony and serenity to all those that possess it. According to Master Lam Kam Chuen, author of “Feng Shui Handbook: How to create living and working environment,” feng shui is “The Chinese art of arranging ones life in accordance with the forces of the universe.” Dating back almost over 7000 years, and probably even further, this ancient tradition is commonly known across the globe. Although only practiced in few cultures feng shui is something everyone can participate in.

Feng shui literally translates to wind and water. It is composed of the recognizable symbol yin and yang, fundamental forces such as the five energies, and is based much on ones chi. The yin and yang are used to balance out ones life. The yin, which represents the dark, earth, soft, cold, mother, etc. and the yang which stands for the light, sky, motion, hot, and father. The yin and yang accomplish changes in the universe through the five material agents, or wu hsing. The five agents are composed of the movements of the stars, the workings of the body, the nature of foods, the qualities of music, the ethical qualities of humans, the progress of time, the operations of government, and even the nature of historical change. The yin and yang represent all the opposite principles one finds in the universe.

There are five energies found in feng shui, each traveling in a different direction. First there is fire, which shoots upward. Second is wood, whose energy expands in all directions. Third is water, whose energy descends, fourth is metal, which are the densest and the movement of energy flows upward. Finally earth, whose energy travels horizontally. Each energy helps to create the perfect feng shui.

In order to achieve perfect placement an instrument called the bagua must come into play. According to R.D. Chin author of “Feng Shui Revealed,” the bagua is a “tool used to analyze and evaluate a room, house or tract of land.” It is used in feng shui to find out which part of your home or office correlates with a particular situation in your life. Once you understand how to use this "map of feng shui," you will be able to quickly evaluate and adjust your environment to maximize greater health and productivity while improving your quality of life.

The Uses and types of Coins in Feng Shui

Feng Shui coins are used in general for attracting wealth and prosperity depending on which school of feng shui you follow. Coins are generally arranged in sets of three, tied together with a red ribbon, symbolizing the unity of man, earth, and heaven called the Tien-di-Ren. The coin itself has a square in the middle and 4 different Chinese symbols around it. The square represents the energy of the earth while the roundness of the coin represents the energy of heaven. When the ribbon is tied in different manners it can represent different types of luck and can interpret the incoming Chi in different ways. These coins were originally used in the T’ai Kung in the 11 century as a form of currency but then evolved over the years as a form of luck and wealth. In feng shui there are practices of separating out the different sectors in your life. For the most part these coins are considered to be powerful symbols of wealth and prosperity, but they can be used to fight off negative energy, which introduces diseases, physical harm and bad luck. Some practitioners of feng shui hang them from their front door in certain positions to block the negative chi from entering their household and affecting their lives. Coins can be hung around places of business, like near a cash register, or around bank tellers to help in creating wealth for the people around or near them.

Different types of coins represent different types of luck and prosperity in peoples lives. In feng shui there hundreds of types of coins both new and old that can represent a variety themes, such as the prosperity, luck and abundance coins. These give you exactly what they say they do and help you to preserve your existing wealth as well. On one side are the four characters "Bao Chuen Yong Fu," meaning "Forever Prosperous." On the other side are the eight characters "Fu Zhai Yien Chien, Re Re Sheng Chai," meaning "Good Fortune Ahead, Wealth Multiplies Daily.” There are coins that provide powerful protection as amulets, apart from bringing good fortune. They combine two potent symbols of protection: eight trigrams of the Pa Kua and twelve animal signs that represent the earthly branches. These coins are used to keep family (especially children) safe from evil influences outside the home, and are attached to the doorknob on the inside of the house or room. To make sure these coins are used correctly, the coins with the eight trigrams are flat against the door while the side with the twelve animal signs faces the inside of the house. There are coins from the Ching dynasty that create a great flow of positive energy. During Chien-Lung's illustrious 60-year-long reign, China was at its richest and international trades were most prosperous. The country was at peace and the wealth of the nation was phenomenal. This is represented by one side of the coin with the characters "Tien Xia Tai Ping," meaning "Peace on Earth." They are hung at work to ensure the solid financial luck and support of Emperor Chien Lung for business and are displayed above the front door to attract wealth luck and good fortune into people’s homes. There are also six gold coins that represent the prosperous reign of the first six powerful Chinese emperors of the Ching Dynasty: Shun-Chi, Kang-Hsi, Yung-Cheng, Chien-Lung, Chia Ching, Tao-Kwong. Secured with the mystic knot, they represent endless wealth and luck. Six is also the number, which represents the trigram Chien, which brings luck from heaven to empower you. Arrangement of these coins and the ribbons provide specified protection against negative Chi. If the coins are formed into a knife then it is used to have luck in business and protect against the backstabbing involved in business deals. If they’re formed as a type of amulet it can provide protection against medical ailments. Although most of these coins have different styles and icons on them they fall into the convention of being used as good luck charms. They increase your power to gain wealth and are almost a decoration for Feng Shui. Since Feng Shui requires a great deal of thought into placement of things like furniture and plants, these coins provide an excellent way to fine tune the details in businesses and homes. In recent years there has been an increase of the different types of coins and the other products such as the money frog and money tree and has created a swelling market for them. These coins that were once used as currency, they are now valued for much more than what they were first used as.


Significance of the color red and the square shape of the coin’s center

The Chinese believe that everything under the sky can be classified under the “five elements.” These are gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. Similar to the theory of yin and yang, balancing the five elements is central to feng shui practitioners. The color red has been synonymous with the Chinese culture for centuries it is viewed as bright and lucky, also associated with a drive to be wealthy and prosperous and the fire element. Because it denotes good fortune, at the Chinese new year, children are given little red packets or envelopes filled with money to wish them good luck for the coming year. The color red has also been associated with warding off evil spirits and bringing happiness and prosperity. Generally, the Chinese people value success as an important aspect of their lives and because of this, coin objects are valued in their society. According to feng shui practices, when three coins are tied together with red ribbon or thread, it is symbolic of a boundless source of income.

Local Applications of Coins in Feng Shui

A trip to Little Saigon in Westminster was helpful in seeing whether or not one could easily purchase coins for use in feng shui and if so what kind of information about them those selling them would provide. This area in southern California called Little Saigon borders closely with Little Seoul and is filled with businesses and commerce run mainly by and for Vietnamese and Korean people, and items from Asia not found in any other local store can be found here. Many shops in the area had items with coins and often tied with red string, and the shop keepers all identified them with good luck and prosperity. One shop keeper was particularly detailed about the coins themselves and how they were Chinese in origin but were recognized as lucky by most Vietnamese as well. He said that the coins ranged across several centuries, they were round with a square hole stamped out of the middle, and it was the character written on the coin that gave it its good fortune. According to the shop keeper the characters on the coins ensured that if you use this money it will return to you and money will stay with you for as long as you keep these coins. The coins he was selling were replicas; not made of metal but instead some form of bendable colored plastic, but he was insistent that it was the token value of the coin and the characters on it that brought money to those who had them. Admittedly, the coins themselves could not buy anything for sale today and when asked if the shop keeper would except the lucky Chinese coins in exchange for goods in his store he said that he would not.

Another shop keeper identified an item he was selling as a feng shui piece for your house. The item was a ball of coins wrapped together with wire and adorned with red strings. The coins were much the same as the ones from the previous shop but they were larger and made of metal. When asked what the item was for he replied that it was good luck feng shui to hang in your house and that the coins would bring money and prosperity to the household. He also said that red was the strongest and most prosperous color and that when you brought the coins home, money would follow you.

The idea of bringing money to your household through feng shui was supported by another woman who told of how she placed coins on her door knob. This woman had much the same to say about the good fortune of Chinese coins, but she practiced the feng shui by tying them around her door knobs at home. She said that doorways are very significant in feng shui because they are the portals that everyone and everything must pass through to enter your home. With coins on her door knobs she entered and exited her home with good fortune and it was assured that money would come to her home.

All the shop keepers who provided information about these items were Vietnamese, and yet the coins they were selling were Chinese. Their personal authority on the good fortune of these coins came at least second hand to them through tradition and oral history, but not of national experience or related understanding of Chinese culture. Also, the woman who places coins on her door to bring money to her house is of Honduran decent and knows even less of Asian history or culture. However, she had vested a sort of power and influence in these coins specifically because of their Chinese origin and the reputation of Asian culture that she held in her mind. Feng shui itself is accepted as a commodity by many Westerners simply because of the mystic spiritual authority we place in anything that comes from an Asian culture, a good deal in part because of the mystery that first surrounded this region of “The Orient” in our westernized Eurocentric history.

When considering the breakdown of feng shui into elements such as yin and yang or wood and metal it is not so easy to integrate cash into the mix. Coins are metal, but for the most part it is paper bills, plastic cards and numbers on a computer screen that represent our wealth in these times. There is a noticeable difference between the feng shui that was encountered as a commodity in the Asian Garden Mall and that which was found in research. It is worth noting that the feng shui found in application here was its own brand of the practice, bringing fortune to shop keepers and peace of mind to house wives who might know nothing of “wind and water”.