Classical Feng Shui began as an interplay of construction and astronomy.
Early Yangshao houses at Banpo were oriented to catch the mid-afternoon winter sun at its warmest,
just after the solstice.
(Some tribes in southern China still refer to this month as "House-building
Professor David Pankenier and his associates performed retrospective
computation on the Chinese sky at the time of the Banpo dwellings (4000
BCE) to show that the
asterism Yingshi (Lay out the Hall, in the
Warring States period and early Han era)
corresponded to the sun's location at this time. Several hundred years earlier
the asterism Yingshi was known as Ding. It was used to indicate
the appropriate time to build a capital city, according to the Shijing.
The grave at
Puyang (4,000 BCE) that contains mosaics of
the Dragon and Tiger
constellations and Beidou (Big
Dipper) is similarly oriented with cosmological accuracy along a
The tombs of
Shang kings and their consorts at Xiaotun lie on a north-south axis, ten degrees east of due north. The
Shang palaces at Erlitou are also on a north-south axis, slightly west of true
north. These orientations were obtained by astronomy,
All capital cities of China followed rules of Feng Shui for their design
and layout. These rules were codified during the Zhou era in the
Kaogong ji (Manual of Crafts). Rules for builders were codified in the
Lu ban jing (Carpenter's Manual). Graves and tombs also followed rules
of Feng Shui. From the earliest records, it seems that the rules for these
structures were developed from rules for dwellings.
The oldest known Feng Shui device consists of a two-sided board with
astronomical sightlines. Liuren astrolabes have been unearthed from Chin-era tombs at
Wangjiatai and Zhoujitai. These devices date between 278 BCE and 209 BCE.
Today Feng Shui practitioners can select from three types of
Feng Shui compasses: San He (the so-called "form school," although the
compass name means "Triple Combination"), San Yuan (the so-called
"compass school," although the compass name actually refers to time), and the
Zong He that combines the other two.