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Catching Feng Shui in Bangkok

Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00;
Published in Blog;

On a recent working trip to Thailand, I stumbled upon some interesting examples of feng shui at work, whether by accident or by design. I had been to Bangkok midyear 2015, just a week or so before the horrifying bombing at the Erawan Shrine. This famous shrine attracts thousands of worshippers every day, both locals and tourists alike, but has become a real draw card especially for the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists now swelling the airways of Southeast Asia. Here, on the 17th August 2015 terrorists exploded a bomb left in a backpack, killing 20 people and injury a further 125. During that visit, I had noticed two very nasty drawn bows extending directly onto the Erawan Shrine site from the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), or Skytrain as it is affectionately called. Drawn bows in classical Chinese feng shui are formed by sweeping convex forms, whether they be rivers, roads or some other such line and are considered to be extremely dangerous, engendering violent events and actions. There converse are concave forms that envelop a site and thus act in a protective manner, often bringing financial prosperity. In the enwrapping form, they are known as Jade Belts or more fully a Jade Belt wrapped around a rich man's belly. The concept is that only a rich man has a belly and can afford a whole belt made of jade. Since the colour of jade is green, the colour of harbours and river water, they are in fact a reference to the notion that it is water along coastal regions that brings man not only trade but the accumulation of wealth. Hence jade refers to water, water refers to money and its accumulation. However, in its reverse form, it is a dangerous device indeed. A wonderful example can be found in its classic form just inside the Forbidden City in Beijing as seen in the illustration below. Here it is known as the Golden River.

The Forbidden City's Golden River Note the Loaded Arrow of the marked stone pathway

In fact so powerful are Jade Belts thought to be, there are at least five of these to be found in the Forbidden City.

So when looking at the same kind of edifice in Bangkok, it is no surprise then that something as dastardly as the August 2015 bombings could take place in the direct line of the Drawn Bow formed by the BTS at the Erawan Shrine.

The Sha qi (poison arrow) emitting from this Drawn Bow is so strong, violence must be expected at some point.Image origin unknown

The fact these are raised light rail lines that pass overhead of street and pedestrian traffic and cut across buildings anywhere between the third and sixth floors only makes them the more dangerous.

On opening the drapes to one of my hotel rooms on this most recent trip to the City of Angels, I was immediately struck by the aggressiveness of the BTS line just outside my hotel room. (I had in fact to change hotel rooms several times due to the busyness of Bangkok with Chinese New Year)

BTS Line and Station at the Sathorn Centre

Going for a walk to check this site out I discovered the Drawn Bow on this particular site was very strong indeed but then I realised that it was being responded to by the surrounding architecture on multiple levels, at least two by design.

BTS forms major Drawn Bow at Sathorn Centre in downtown BKK.

The first was the multiple circular designs on the building that was perhaps the most on the receiving side of the Drawn Bow. I count at least six respondent returns in the image below. How many can you see?

Responding circular forms incorporated into the building's design answer the aggressive sha qi of the BTS sweep.

Closer inspection found how determined these architectural responses have been built into the surrounding buildings. The large disc outside the closest building is the first. The rounded balconies, rounded eaves at second, third, fourth and fifth levels on this same building are yet more. Then on the opposite side of the overhead walkway, another building, a very tall building shows itself as a definite responder. This time aggressively so. Here a sharp razor blade like edge to the front the building points directly towards the hefty Drawn Bow of the BTS

Perhaps the most dramatic answer to the Drawn Bow opposite for this building.

Even more dramatic is the architectural design of the building across the intervening intersection. The Bank of China no less!

Bank of China Building makes an aggressive Razor Blade response to the Drawn Bow opposite.

actually, this building is constructed in such a way that there are in fact two sets of razor blades pointing directly back at the offending Jade Belt. Very effective! There can be little doubt that these measures have been deliberately incorporated into their original designs.

However, where ever there is a yang force, there must also be an equal yin force; and sure enough directly under the shady protection of the enveloping Drawn Bow is the beneficial shade of a Jade Belt, where I found a very prosperous and funky street market, simply abuzz with life, commerce and up-market products.

The building here is that of the Bank of China. Note the very aggressive double Razor Blades that point directly towards the offending Drawn Bow.

The Double edged Razor Blade of the Bank of China, Sathorn Dai, Bkk

However, nestled on the inside swathe of the Drawn Bow, I then noticed that underneath its enveloping embrace, an active, clearly prosperous mini-outdoors market had sprung up. Funky, and filled with chic food, snacks ad fashion ware, it was simply heaving!

A pop-up market getting into full swing. Note the embracing Jade Belt of the overhead Skytrain.

Another day, another hotel room; Bangkok was simply jammed packed for Chinese New Year and so I was having to move hotels almost daily. The upside to this was that I got to see several differing skylines in the inner city. This time the view was towards Silom and the famous old lady, the Dusit Thani Hotel. There, standing tall and proud was a high rise with the very complex roof line. Closer inspection showed up some intriguing clues as to what just might be going on.

Note the building to photo centre with the complex roofline. The Dusit Thani has a spire atop.

Zooming in to the top of the building I began to understand just what was going on. Readers will notice that there are several separate and quite distinct shapes built on the top of this building in what at first appears to be a totally random, even bizarre arrangement. However, there are in fact very good feng shui reasons for this ménage of rather weird shapes atop the building.

In Yin/Yang Five element theory, each element not only has a colour, but they also their own distinct shapes. Earth is square, Metal is round, Water is irregular, Wood columnar and Fire triangular.

This typical feng shui remedy, shows all five elements and their shape and is designed to help counter any imbalance within the physical environment.

This can be seen in the feng shui cure above. The base is square and so is earth, the rounded ball on top the earth signifies metal. Then comes the columnar shape of wood, then the irregular surface indicates water, topped by the triangular pyramid of fire. These shapes can be seen reflected in the ornamental edifices built atop this high-rise apartment building; almost certainly in an attempt to bring a balance between all five elements. Let's count them off: First and perhaps most obvious, is the pyramid at left on the roof. This represents fire. The rectangular screens that are columnar to the forefront of the roof, represent wood. Above these, stands the semi-circular sail, which is metal element, (round is metal). The overall shape of the building is of course square and so represents the earth element. What's missing then is the irregularity of water. Although I cannot see a swimming pool either from these shots or from the bird's eye view afforded by GoogleEarth, but it may well be that the slightly odd, asymmetricality of the upper floors is in and of itself enough to be a representation of the water element. Either way, they illustrate the joys and vicissitudes of examining Bangkok's ever evolving skyline.

The top of this building clearly shows the use in architectural form of feng shui five element theory.