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The 4 Different Schools of Feng Shui

Every academic field has its own schools of thought, and Feng Shui studies (also referred to as “schools of feng shui”) is no exception. This discipline’s roots began during the Qin and Han dynasties with influences from astronomy and geography leading to both superstitious and scientific approaches within Feng Shui studies.

“Chen Wei” refers to a combination of Chen books and Wei books. Chen books were traditionally used in ancient shamanistic practices to predict fortune and misfortune while “Wei” represented political theory from Confucian classics, thus making “Chen Wei” political prophecy. When introduced into Feng Shui it added superstitious element, becoming what is known today as Tu Zhai Shu (House Layout Technique).

Scientific Feng Shui schools, commonly referred to as “Kan Yu Shu” (Geomancy) or the Xing Fa Shu (Form Method), focus on studying mountains and rivers for geomancy purposes. During Tang and Song dynasties these evolved into two schools known as Xing Shi Pai (“Form and Position School”) and Li Qi Pai (“Pattern and Energy School”). Both focus on house selection and construction while stressing Bagua Eight Trigrams Theory as well as Yin/Yang theory theories.

Since ancient times, various schools of feng shui such as “Ba Zhai Pai” (Eight Mansions School), “Yang Zhai San Yao Pai” (Three Essentials of Yang Houses School), “Ba Gua Pai” (Eight Trigrams School), Xuan Kong Pai” (Mysterious Void School) and Zhong Zhou Pai” (Central Plains School) have emerged; each offering unique approaches and methodologies.

Xing Shi Pai (Form and Position School)

Xing Shi Pai is one of the premier schools of Feng Shui. Established by Yang Jun Song during Tang dynasty, this school specializes in mountains and waters theory with “Dragon’s Den” being its center point as its core principles. However, this does not only have theoretical ramifications – its applications also extend to architecture design and site selection decisions.

“Xing Shi Pai” can be defined as Feng Shui practiced using mountain forms as its central components to influence Feng Shui energy flow and retention and, ultimately, affect inhabitants’ fortune. Position is determined by topography leading up to the site; both form and position influence its quality of Feng Shui. Xing Shi Pai seeks out auspicious mountain shapes and terrains; its primary task involves locating auspicious locations by mountain shape and terrain characteristics and the quality of Feng Shui; it further divides into sub-schools focused on visual imagery of terrain features as well as analysis of auspicious/inauspicious effects and study of geographical features; overall this school represents a vital aspect of geographical Feng Shui by searching out locations with abundant life energy.

Li Qi Pai (Pattern and Energy School)

Li Qi Pai first emerged during the Song Dynasty under founders such as Wang Ji and Chen Tuan. Building upon the foundations laid by Xing Shi Pai, Feng Shui incorporates theories from I Ching (Book of Changes) and astrology, thus adding complex yet mysticism elements. Li Qi Pai school’s teachings emphasize the delicate relationship between humans and nature, providing intricate guidance. At its heart lies “Qi”, an energy force determined by landscape that impacts every part of our universe – including human wellbeing. Feng Shui philosophy stresses the harmony between heaven and earth. Li Qi Pai’s complexity has resulted in various smaller schools within it, each one integrating numerological theories such as Five Elements, Eight Trigrams, Nine Stars, He Tu and Luo Shu diagrams celestial influences and the concept of Xuan Kong (Mysterious Void).

Xuan Kong Pai (Mysterious Void School)

The Xuan Kong Pai, or Mysterious Void School, flourished during Qianlong and Jiaqing periods with numerous sub-schools that thrived despite critics and secrecy among themselves. Notable sub-schools during this period include Dian Nan Pai, Wu Chang Pai, Suzhou Pai, Shang Yu Pai, Xiang Chu Pai and Guangdong Pai.

Wu Chang Pai was established by Zhang Zhong Shan and believed to have received the true teachings of Xuan Kong. Originating in Wuxi and flourishing in Changzhou, they adhered to Jiang Da Hong’s secretive scholarly thought emphasised in Jiang Da Hong’s teachings – further adding an air of mystique around their understanding of Mysterious Void which could only rarely be comprehended or transmitted on.

Zhong Zhou Pai (Central Plains School),

founded in Luoyang and dating back over 2000 years to Han dynasty roots, saw significant development under Jin dynasty ruler Guo Pu as its star pupil; tradition dictated its transmission orally from master to disciple thus restricting its spread.

Wang Ting Zhi was instrumental in turning around this situation when he unexpectedly acquired the oral teachings of Zhong Zhou Pai’s Xuan Kong and began studying its Feng Shui and Zi Wei Dou Shu (Purple Star Astrology) systems. Most importantly, however, was that he began writing and teaching publicly through “Zhong Zhou Pai Xuan Kong Xue”, an article published to make these teachings available to a broader audience and help grow acceptance and expansion of this school of Feng Shui which today stands as one of China’s finest schools of Feng Shui doctrine.


Reference Content

  1. What Is Feng Shui
  2. Feng Shui Calendar-The Premise of Calculating Destiny
  3. What Is a Feng Shui Compass?

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