Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of utilizing certain so-called laws governing the heavens and earth that can improve through what is called having positive Qi. Feng Shui history is an ancient one and covers over 3,500 years. It is even older than the invention of the magnetic compass. A main portion of its origins may stem from ancient astronomy.
The astronomical history of Feng Shui is evident in the ancient instruments that were developed in its practice. The earliest known Feng Shui instrument may have been what is known as the gnomon. This instrument was used along with trying to circumpolar the stars to determine the north and south axis. This was basically used in laying down early Chinese settlements.
The ancient Yangshao and Hongshan cultures in China provide the earliest evidence of the practice of feng shui. As early as 4000 BCE, doors from Banpo dwellings were aligned to the star called Yingshi just right after the winter solstice. This allowed the homes to be sited for better solar gain. During the Zhou era, the star Yingshi was known as Ding and had a great influence in trying to determine the appropriate time to build their capital city. This is according to records on the Shijing.
Another example of the practice of ancient feng shui can also be found from the grave at Puyang that dates to about 3000 BCE. This grave contains mosaics of the stars called Dragon and Tiger along with the Beidou, known in the Western world as the Big Dipper constellation. The mosaics seem to be oriented along the north to south axis. The presence of round and square shapes was also found at the Puyang tomb as well as at the Hongshan cultural ceremonial centers and the former Longshan settlement. These evidences suggest that the practice of gaitian astronomy (belief in a round earth and a square earth) was already present in the ancient Chinese society.
One of the oldest instruments used in ancient feng shui were the liuren astrolabes. These ancient instruments consist of a lacquered, two-sided board equipped with astronomical sightlines. The oldest of the liuren astrolabes have been found and discovered from tombs dating from 278 BCE and 209 BCE. These ancient astrolabes show the cord-hook diagram and some those found even include the magic square of three. The markings on these instruments remained unchanged, from the ancient astrolabe down to the first magnetic compasses.
The practice of astronomy that bears a striking resemblance to many modern feng shui devices and theories were also discovered on a jade artifact found in Hanshan that dated at around 3000 BCE. Ancient structures in China which included its palaces in the capital cities are all influenced by feng shui in their design and layout. The rules that were followed were written during the Zhou era on the “Kaogong ji”, or the “Manual of Crafts”.
The magnetic compass was initially invented for the practice of Feng shul and has been in use since its invention. Traditional Feng shul instruments include the Luopan or the earlier south-pointing spoon or the zhinan zhen. This shows the extent of Feng shul history and its long-standing practice in ancient Chinese history.