The mythical bird known as the Phoenix in the West also has a Chinese name, Fenghuang, and shares many characteristics with its western counterpart. In ancient China, the arrival of a Fenghuang was seen as a portent that a new emperor would soon rise to power, furthering the belief that the Chinese Phoenix represents harmony.
Feng is the male Phoenix’s name in Chinese mythology, whereas Huang is the female’s. Gender differences are less frequently highlighted now than in the past, and the Fenghuang is frequently represented as a female figure, opposite a male dragon.
The Chinese phoenix is sometimes depicted with its wings extended, fighting a snake or snakes with its talons. The Fenghuang, according to legend, possesses a rooster’s beak, a fowl’s forehead, a swallow’s face, a snake’s neck, a tortoise’s back, a goose’s breast, a fish’s tail, and the hindquarters of a stag. However, modern depictions of the Fenghuang generally feature a mash-up of multiple beards, including that of a mandarin duck, pheasant, peacock, and parrot.
The fenghuang’s head serves as a representation of the sky, the sun serves as its eyes, the moon serves as its back, the wind serves as its wings, the ground serves as its feet, and the planets serve as its tail. The sun is credited as the source of the fenghuang. The five primary hues—black, white, red, yellow, and green—are all represented on its body. It may also be carrying a box containing holy texts or scrolls. A fireball may accompany it in some illustrations. The appearance of the bird is thought to signal the arrival of a period of unparalleled tranquility and prosperity.
According to local legend, it resides in the northern Chinese Kunlun Mountains.
The earliest known ancient phoenix design goes back to around 7000–8000 years ago and was unearthed at the Gaomiao Archeological Site in Hongjiang, Hunan Province. The earliest known type of dragon-phoenix design, on the other hand, dates back to the Yangshao civilization (c. 5000 – c. 3000 BC) and was discovered in Xi’an in Shaanxi Province at an archeological site. This historic use of phoenix and dragon motifs is evidence of a Chinese kind of totemism.
Phoenix and dragon figures appear to have grown popular as burial artifacts during the Shang period. Several ancient artifacts depicting jade phoenixes and dragons were discovered in tombs dating back to the Shang dynasty.
During the Spring and Autumn periods (c. 771 BC–c. 476 BC) and the Warring States period, the combination of dragon-phoenix motifs was a common form of discovered artifact.A silk painting of Human Figure with Dragon and Phoenix, which depicts such a mix of dragon and phoenix figures, is one of such antiques.
Phoenix hairpins (i.e., hairpins with fenghuang decorations) and shoes embellished with phoenix designs were expected to be worn by the Qin Emperor’s Imperial concubines during the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC).
During the Han period (2,200 years ago), two phoenixes, one male (feng) and one female (huang), were frequently shown facing each other.[Citation required] An imperial edict issued during the Han dynasty required the phoenix hairpins to become the traditional headgear for the empress dowager and the imperial grandmother.
The two titles were later united to form fenghuang during the Yuan dynasty, although the “King of Birds” came to signify the empress when coupled with a dragon representing the emperor.
From the Jiajing era (1522–66) of the Ming dynasty onwards, a pair of phoenixes was differentiated by the tail feathers of the two birds, typically together forming a closed circle pattern: the male identified by five long serrated tail feathers, or “filaments” (five being an odd, masculine, or yang number), and the female by what sometimes appears to be one but is in fact usually two curling or tendrilled tail feathers (two being an even, feminine, or yin number).
During this time, the fenghuang was also utilized as an emblem for the south. A male and female facing each other served as a representation of this. Their feathers came in five basic colors: black, white, red, green, and yellow. These colors are thought to represent the five qualities of Confucius:
Ren : the virtues of goodness, kindness, and humanity
Yi: Honesty and uprightness; Yi denotes doing one’s best, conscientiousness, and loyalty; and shù denotes reciprocity, selflessness, and care for others.
Zhi: Knowledge and Wisdom
Xin: sincerity and integrity;
Li: appropriateness, excellent manners, politeness, formality, and worship.
The phoenix symbolized power sent from above to the Empress. If a phoenix was used to decorate a house, it represented the people who lived there being loyal and honest. Alternatively, a phoenix will only stay when the ruler is free of darkness and corruption (政治清明).
For the Chinese, what does the phoenix represent?
The mythology of the Yellow Emperor, who ruled China during the Zhou dynasty, states that the Fenghuang appeared during a time of political stability and peace. Because of this, the Chinese phoenix has come to represent such concepts as peace, virtue, harmony, ritual, compassion, trust, and so on.
The Classic of Mountains and Seas, written in China in the 4th century BCE, ascribes virtue to the Fenghuang’s head, responsibility to its wings, propriety to its back, believability to its abdomen, and kindness to its breast.
Because the Fenghuang represents a fresh start, statues of the Chinese Phoenix are commonly shown at Chinese weddings and New Year’s celebrations.
The Chinese Phoenix is a symbol of good fortune and, when displayed in the right spot, can attract positive qi to your house or place of business through the practice of Feng Shui. Putting a statue of a phoenix and dragon in the southwest corner of the bedroom is a common Feng Shui remedy for marital bliss.
To sum up, the significance of the Chinese phoenix in Chinese Feng Shui includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Peace and Harmony
It is a common belief that the Fenghuang heralds the start of a new era that will be prosperous, peaceful, and peaceful. The appearance of a phoenix during the birth of a prince, for instance, is taken as a sign that the kid will one day rule as an emperor.
The word “balance” serves as a metaphor for the harmony between yin and yang in a marriage.
White, black, red, yellow, and green feathers are thought to symbolize loyalty, decorum, justice, and honesty.
Western Phoenix vs. Chinese Phoenix
In the West, the Phoenix was traditionally thought to have sprung from Greek mythology, although it is now recognized internationally as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Almost every myth or legend about the Phoenix emphasizes the bird’s solitary nature, describing how it has never been married or produced offspring.
In 1782, before the eagle was adopted as the national symbol of the United States, the phoenix was featured on the Great Seal of the United States. Native Americans revere the Phoenix, referring to it as the Thunderbird due to its size and the fact that red is its primary color. When the Thunderbird flaps its wings, it is thought to make tremendously powerful wings, which in turn produce rain and thunder. In Native American religion and culture, the thunderbird was a significant symbol.
Another version of the Phoenix myth claims its roots are in Egypt, with the Greeks and Romans adding to the story afterwards.
One of the most notable distinctions between the Western Phoenix and the Chinese Fenghuang is that the former is immortal and does not undergo a cycle of death and rebirth. Instead, the Fenghuang lives eternally but secretly, only revealing itself to humans on rare occasions, like the birth of a remarkable kid.
Together with the Dragon, the Kirin (Chinese Unicorn), and the Great Tortoise, the Phoenix is one of the four celestial animals that are said to have founded the world and ruled the sky in Chinese mythology. Fenghuang is the solar deity in charge of the southern hemisphere.
So, while the Western Phoenix and the Fenghuang have some similarities, there are also some important distinctions.
The Role of the Chinese Phoenix in Feng Shui
Some common applications of the Chinese Phoenix in Feng Shui include the following:
- For improved romantic fortune, place the Phoenix and Dragon together in your Nien Yen (love) direction. It is thought to bring you luck in finding a partner if you’re single and peace in your relationship if you’re already married.
- A Phoenix statue should be placed in isolation in the southwest region of the home or business, as this is the area associated with romantic relationships.
- Wishing for health, fame, and wisdom? Set the Phoenix in the east corner of your living room.
- Avoid putting the Phoenix in the bathroom or kitchen, as these are considered bad Feng Shui areas.
The Feng Shui Dragon and Phoenix
Both the Dragon and the Phoenix represent stability, longevity, and undying love in Chinese mythology and Feng Shui. This is why the Dragon and the Chinese Phoenix are frequently shown together in Feng Shui.
The Phoenix is associated with feminine Yin energy, whereas the dragon represents masculine Yang energy. The Phoenix is associated with optimism, fame, and new beginnings, while the Dragon is a symbol of strength and authority. It is believed that putting them together will bring a balance of yin and yang energy to the region they are placed in.
The phoenix also portends a positive change in Zhou Gong’s Explanations of Dreams.