Chinese Fortune Telling – Suan Ming

Foretelling the future is one popular subject all over the world. This is due to the reason that nobody really knows what lies ahead in their life. While others rely on their instincts, on hard work and perseverance, there still are a number of individuals who highly regard and believe in the effectiveness of fortune telling in their lives.

This is especially true in the Chinese culture. The Chinese, as well as other cultures, make use of Chinese fortune telling methods to determine future occurrences. Since historical times, the art of Chinese fortune telling, known as “Suan Ming” in Chinese were already being and practiced in order to gain knowledge of one’s future.

Like in many Western cultures where various methods of Divination are used to foretell the future, Suan Ming also has numerous ways of fortune telling. In 1683, the official government’s manual published by the Board of Rites and later updated in 1741, contained thirty-six books entitled Hsieh Chi Pien Fang Shu. In modern days, Hsuan tse is the most well-known fortune telling manual which lists all of the essential formulas, regulations, and methods of divination in combination with the many techniques used throughout different parts of China.

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Face Reading is an popular method of Suan ming. Also known as Physiognomy, this process’ history could be dated back into antiquity with the Chinese. The facial features such as the nose, eyes and mouth are analyzed and interpreted in Face Reading. These facial features are believed to match with the five Sacred Mountains, the four Great Rivers, the five Planets, and the six Stars. The upper region of the face represents youth, the middle region of the face represents middle age, and the lower region of the face represents old age. The reader or physiognomist can calculate the relations or oppositions of these features to foresee good and bad luck. Also predicted in Face Reading are probable length of life, marriage and child-bearing fortune.

Palm Reading or Palmistry in the West, is another way of foretelling one’s future. It involves analysis of appropriate palm lines for love, personality, and other individual qualities.

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“Kau Cim”, also a method in Chinese fortune telling which involves the shaking of a bamboo cylinder containing fortune telling sticks. These sticks resembling flat incense sticks are inscribed with Chinese numbers. The querent asks or whispers to the deity their question then shakes the tube with the sticks. The first stick that falls out will have a corresponding paper in which the answer to the inquiries is written. Interpretation of what’s written in the paper is done by a temple priest or volunteers after offering incense, fruits, cakes, a roasted pig or fowl, or monetary donations.

“Zi wei dou shu”, also known as “Purple Star Astrology” or “Emperor/Purple (Star) Astrology”, is also among the ways of fortune telling. The client seeks an adviser with mastery and knowledge of the Chinese calendar. The combination of Astrology, Chinese Constellation, Four Pillars of Destiny and the Five elements is used in this method of divination. Thus resulting to the translation of one’ destiny path and pre-determined fate. This method can also verify unique events that have already occurred.


by W Tsang