Chinese Geomancer's compass

Made:
1750-1857 in Taiwan and China
maker:
Chinese people
Compass, Chinese geomancer's, black lacquer finish (10" dia), c. 1851?. From a colour transparency in the Science

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Compass, Chinese geomancer's, black lacquer finish (10" dia), c. 1851?. From a colour transparency in the Science
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Lacquer work Chinese geomancer's compass showing a 24-point compass rose, unsigned, Chinese, 1750-1857

Geomancy is the art of successfully orienting buildings. The Chinese geomantic system is known as feng shui. In Chinese thought, feng shui is a system of good and evil influence in the natural surroundings, which needs to be taken into consideration when designing and siting buildings. Wooden compasses such as this one were used to determine the most healthy position to build a house. The location for buildings were carefully chosen so that the forces of Yin and Yang were balanced correctly, thus reducing the chance of illness.

Details

Category:
Navigation
Object Number:
1857-27
Materials:
lacquer, metal (unknown) and wood
type:
magnetic compass
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • vehicle - transportation
credit:
Commissioners of the Great Exhibition of 1851