There is a curiosity that lingers around what the future holds. Fortune telling is practiced around the world in various forms, all with the same objective—a lens into the future.
China, the ancient culture that it is, has its share of fortune telling practices, each one unique in its own way. Dongguan has several fortune telling venues, mainly of two types, individual fortune tellers who work out of their homes or local spots, and those found in the areas around temples.
Our first destination was the old part of town, adjacent to the Old People’s Park (Guang Ming Lu). We followed directions given by locals to find an aged man sitting in the street with a sign board. Having been referred from some Chinese folks and re-assured by locals, we got down to getting our future told by the man on the road. Two small wooden stools behind a parked mini-van served as his makeshift fortune telling workplace.
Here we tried the Bazi method of fortune telling. It is basically a calculated reading based on five elements as conceived by Tang-era scholar Li Xuzhong, founder of Bazi. Date and time of birth are obtained to make a life chart that describes past, present and future in terms of profession, relationships, wealth and other life factors. A conversion table is available to correlate dates between the Gregorian and Chinese calendars.
After obtaining the date of birth and time of birth, the fortune teller made a Bazi prediction of our lifetime, from the age of 6 upward. He spoke about family, profession, wealth, and seemed to pick one point of conflict he suggested was in dire need of a remedy. We believed it was a ploy to lure more revenue. Although he did not provide any specific details, he did give highlights based on age groups, and we proceeded to our next destination convinced our lifespan was long and healthy.
The next stop was in Wanjiang, where in one of the many alleys is a locally known fortune teller who works out of his home. Again, finding the place was mostly by inquiring with the locals who all knew of the blind man telling fortunes in the area.
As we approached his premises, he was performing some sort of a remedial procedure for an individual involving chanting, burning of joss paper and gonging of bells. When our turn eventually came we entered. The room was sparsely lit with idols of Chinese deities with offerings and lamps burning in front of them. The walls were adorned with endorsements of the man’s predictions, apparently from Dentists and lawyers.
Here also the prediction began with consulting the birth date and time of the person for whom the question was asked, and we were free to ask one specific question or focal point for the prognostication. The answer again arrived in the form of a brief overview.
We followed directions given by locals to find an aged man sitting in the street with a sign board.
Our next destination was the Shuilian Mountain. The temple surrounded by a vast sloped landscape can be reached by a small uphill walk or by taking a RMB 5 ride from the entrance. The temple was no different from any other Chinese temple, and within there were at least three fortune tellers, mostly middle-aged who said they offer all services including Face reading: 面相 Miànxiàng, palm reading: 手相 Shǒuxiàng, sticks: 求签 Qiúqiān, and of course the八字 Bāzì.
Here, we decided to try the Qiúqiān, which involves shaking a cylinder of sticks until one falls out. Each stick has an inscription which will in turn reflect the prediction.
Getting a stick to fall out without scattering the whole bunch across the floor was quite the trick. After several minutes of shaking, the fallen stick was correlated with a number and then exchanged for a piece of pink paper with Chinese characters that needed to be taken to the fortune tellers. They then interpreted the paper to answer a specific query.
Shǒuxiàng or palm reading is a method of fortune telling where the palm’s regions and its lines each represent a factor of life, such as marriage, fortune, travel or health.
Depending on the length, clarity, number of lines in a region, gaps between fingers, contour of the palm, the fortune teller makes a prediction for each factor of life.
According to the Chinese methodology of face reading, Miànxiàng, facial features depict the person’s character. Also changes in facial features can be attributed to health conditions of particular parts of the body. We were told that this was not the most accurate method.
Our last spot of the day was the temple on Qifeng Mountain where we found a few fortune tellers who also did all the above fortune telling methods.
To believe or not is altogether up to individual choice, but if you want to explore as a curious foreigner who lacks firsthand experience with Dongguan’s fortune telling scene, grab a friend and take a day trip through town to unleash the secrets of your future. If not that, at least you will end up with a good story and some China keep sake photos.
Key to City Soothsayers
Tips: Best to bring a speaker of the Dongguan dialect for interpretation. Inquire around the area about the credibility of the fortune teller. Most have a reputation in the community.
Shuilian Mountain Temple
Tip: Go during March and April, because the red silk cotton trees in front of the temple blossom beautifully. Entrance to the temple is RMB 10.
Availability: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Value: Reasonable (shaking of the bamboo cylinder, RMB 10; prediction, RMB 30; Palm Reading, RMB 50; Face reading, RMB 50).
Address: Shuilian Shan Road, Shuilian Mountain Forest Park, Nancheng
Tip: Before beginning, determine and confirm price.
Availability: Morning hours.No specific time.
Address: Alley entrance of No. 66 & 68 on Beizheng Road, Guancheng (the intersection of Guangming Rd, Xinfeng Road and Beizheng Road)
Tip: Fortune telling is done only on even days of the Chinese calendar. Prior appointment is preferred or be prepared to wait if he has a client already.
Availability: Mornings on even dates of the Chinese calendar.
Value: Reasonable value. RMB 50 for one reading.
Address: No.6, Alley 5, Yanjiang West Road, Xincun Village, Wanjiang
Tip: Don’t go to the wrong temple. The wrong one has two rows of Guanyin statues standing in front of the two sides of the gate.
Availability: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Value: Expensive, RMB 100 – 200.
Address: Dongcheng Middle Rd, Qifeng Park, Dongcheng
Tip: As the biggest temple in Dongguan with over 400 years of history, it is said the qiuqian works the best.
Availability: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Value: RMB 20.
Address: Baoshan Forest Park, Huangjiang
Tip: Be careful of fraud because it’s a major tourist attraction.
Availability: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Value: RMB 50 for each.
Address: No. 8 Yinxian Resort Avenue, Changping