Title: Building a Farm – Cardinal Directions
General Information About Item:
- Oral folklore: Magic superstition
- Language: Chinese (Mandarin)
- Country of Origin: China
- Informant: Guiming Yang
- Date Collected: May 21st, 2019
- Guiming Yang (杨贵名) is 76 years old and was born near the city of Jiyuan in Henan Province, China, where he has lived there throughout his life. For generations, many members of the Yang family were farmers in Jiyuan. Guiming is the paternal grandfather of the collector.
- Social Context
- The Yang family has been farming for many generations around the Jiyuan area. As he became the patriarch of the Yang family, Guiming was responsible for overseeing the family and their farming.
- In supervising and planning the expansion of the farm and constructing new buildings, Guiming had to consider a variety of factors, such as location and orientation.
- Cultural Context
- Feng shui (风水) is a form of Chinese pseudoscience that allows individuals to harmonize with their environment. Many who adhere to this aspect of Chinese folk religion believe that, for example, by arranging their property and certain objects in their immediate surroundings in a certain way, they can harness the invisible forces that bind the universe together.
- In a historical context, facing the north symbolizes uncertainty and danger. China was plagued by Mongol attacks in the 13th and 14th centuries, and these invaders came from the north.
- On the other hand, the sun (which is obviously a critical element in farming) always rises in the east, making it preferable to orient buildings in that direction.
- In the process of building a house or farm, it is important to consider which direction it is facing. The front of the building should optimally face the east, and not the north.
Collector’s Name: Richard Yang