Posted by: Kash Farooq | April 25, 2011

Superstitious China

I’ve just returned from China and one thing that surprised me was just how superstitious it is.

Anything from numbers, to how a building is designed, to how you eat fish could be considered lucky or unlucky.

And the masses genuinely seem to believe it all.

Example: don’t flip your fish over on your plate – the boat that caught it will capsize.

In Europe it is the number 13 that is unlucky; in China the unlucky numbers are 4 and 14. The word for death and the number 4 are pronounced similarly in Mandarin, and hence 4 has become a very unlucky number. The Citroën C4 had to be renamed the Citroën Quattro for the Chinese market. I guess there wouldn’t be demand for a car called “Citroën Death”. Foreign tourists are put on floors 4 and 14 in hotels as they won’t mind. That is if the hotel hasn’t just skipped the floor and gone straight from floor 3 to floor 5.

A lot of the superstitions centre around wealth and the desire to make money.

Pixiu – Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a winged lion.This weird animal thing is a Pixiu. It is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature resembling a winged lion.

It likes to eat gold and silver. Unfortunately for the animal, it doesn’t have an anus. So what it eats stays inside (I’m not sure why it can’t throw up).

This is great for humans. If they have a Pixiu it will bring wealth to the owner that cannot escape.

You can buy various types of Pixiu everywhere, made out of various materials but often in jade:

Jade Pixiu

Our guide informed us that they are a gambler’s favourite lucky charm. And you can’t just own one. You have to make it yours. You have to perform a ceremony. She informed us (in all seriousness) that once purchased you have to soak it in warm water for 10 minutes (to wake it up?) and then take it out and look into it’s eyes. Then it becomes your Pixiu and will help you win lots of money when you go to the bookies.

Yes, once an inanimate piece of stone has been carved into a Pixiu shape by someone and then “trained” by the owner, it will make the owner rich.

It is a well known fact that all bookies in China are broke as every gambler owns a Pixiu and they just keep winning. 😉

And, of course, the ultimate superstition: Feng Shui. Even the skyscrapers are designed with Feng Shui in mind.

Hong Kong building obeying Feng Shui rules

Hong Kong building obeying Feng Shui rules

The building must be positioned so that it has water in front of it (for food) and a mountain behind it (for protection). But then how will the dragon that lives in the mountain go about it’s business if you put a big building in front of it? Simple. Put a big hole in your big building for it to fly through.



  1. Great article. you should consider visiting India once!

  2. […] title, drawing on China’s notorious superstitiousness, and the perils of when you invest in things that you don’t understand.  Below the jump, […]


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