4 bizarre ways that Chinese people seek supernatural guidance, blessings and wisdom from the gods

Explainer | 4 bizarre ways that Chinese people seek supernatural guidance, blessings and wisdom from the gods

China has a long-established history of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by using supernatural means.

From its earliest forms dating back 3,000 years to the more recent incarnations, divine intervention is ingrained in Chinese culture.

According to a 2021 survey by NetEase DataBlog, almost 80 per cent of people under 30 have used fortune-telling services.

Temples in China, where traditional divination services are mostly provided, had three times more visitors in 2023 than in previous years, according to China’s largest online travel platform, Trip.com.

The Post explains some of the most popular ways of seeking divine intervention.

Drawing fortune sticks

Fortune sticks are shaken inside a container until one with the answer falls out. Photo: Shutterstock

This works by lightly shaking a container full of flat bamboo sticks inscribed with text or numbers and waiting for one to fall out.

While shaking the container, a person whispers or thinks about the questions they have for the deity.

Soothsayers then match the “chosen” stick with a prophecy, which is usually written in four vertical lines of Chinese classical prose. They then explain the prose.

Throwing poe

The way the round and flat edges of the poe configurate on landing dictates the divine answer. Photo: Shutterstock

This is more common at temples in the southern part of China.

Two small wooden pieces, known as jiao bei in Mandarin, are thrown onto the floor and a divine answer is interpreted from the positioning of the pieces on landing.

The pieces have a round and a flat surface, and the combination of the two when they settle suggests whether the deity agrees or disagrees with your question.

One flat and one round, known as one yin, or “negative”, and one yang, or “positive”, means the deity says “yes”. The other two combinations mean “no”.

Face and palm reading

Face and palm reading is a common method of predicting what the future holds. Photo: Shutterstock

This lies in the belief that everyone’s fate lies in their facial features.

Life can be predicted by matching the features from forehead to chin.

Of particular importance is the nose, which stands for wealth. A larger nose suggests better fortune.

Palm reading, as the name suggests, holds that the fate of a person lies in their hands.

Lines on the palm represent life, career, marriage and success. The length and direction of the lines suggest what lies ahead in these separate areas.

Tradition says the right hand is more decisive in a person’s fate than the left.

Character reading

Chinese characters can be split into their component parts, allowing soothsayers to divine a deity’s response to a question. Photo: Shutterstock

Known as chai zi in Mandarin, this predicts a person’s fate from the Chinese character they select.

Those who want to ask the deity something select a random character.

The soothsayer then splits the character and interprets the meaning of its respective parts. The relationship between the parts reveals the answer of the deity.

This method of divination is possible because Chinese characters are usually compounds of two or more pictographic or ideographic characters which suggest the meaning of a word.



Read More

Leave a Reply