To understand Luo Pan, it is best to look at it’s history and origins. While the history of it is non conclusive nevertheless, it will be interesting to know.
Luo Pan – How did it come about?
Tradition holds that Huangdi 皇帝 reigned from 2697 to 2597 or 2698 to 2598 BC Huangdi’s cult was particularly prominent in the late Warring States and early Han period, when he was portrayed as the originator of the centralized state, a cosmic ruler, and a patron of esoteric arts.
Legend has it that Huangdi, credited as being the founder of the Chinese nation, lived in a magnificent palace in the Kunlun Mountains.
There was also at this time another tribal leader, Chi You 蚩尤, who was skilled at making weapons and waging war. He attacked the tribe of Yandi, driving them into the lands of Huangdi. Huangdi was angered by this and went to war with Yandi, initially suffering several defeats. Chi You has some magical skills and they can conjured up a thick fog to confused Huangdi’s army. Huangdi was in the verge of giving up and he prayed to heaven for help. In the legend, the heaven send the Goddess of The Nine Heavens to help Huangdi. She gave Huangdi a tool called the south-pointing chariot to find their way and they were ultimately victorious.
The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for divination as early as the Chinese Han Dynasty (since about 206 BC). Earliest records show a spoon shaped compass made of lodestone or magnetite ore, referred to as a “South Pointing Spoon” or Si Nan (司南) dating back to sometime during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE).
This is the precursor to the modern Luo Pan. The square plate or Shih has all the formulas laid out for metaphysics purposes. It can be used for divination as well as tell direction. To Chinese, a compass is called Zhi Nan Zhen 指南针 or literally Pointing South Needle. Thus in all Luo Pan, the sharp end is always pointing South.
Later as time passes by, Feng shui masters created their own tool call Luo Pan. Luo Pan has 3 major parts. The magnetic needle in the center, the round plate where all the formulas are found and the square plate for holding and measuring.
To a layperson or scientist, a Luo Pan is nothing more than a compass and that is to tell direction. However, to a Feng shui master, the Luo Pan is more than just a compass to tell direction. It is a tool to tell what energy is affecting the house or grave. When the good and bad will happen. It’s also the Feng shui master’s protection against spirits. In short, it’s the pride of a Feng Shui master.
Luo Pan comes in various sizes, shapes and plates. Traditionally, Luo Pan square plates are red in colour since in the Chinese culture, red is an auspicious colour. However modern Luo Pan maker may have it in black, shades or pattern up to his/her personal preference. I still prefer the traditional red.
The round plate is where the formulas are. Depending on the school of the masters, the Luo Pan consist of rings of formulas. There is the traditional San He school Luo Pan & the later San Yuan school Luo Pan. Within each school, they have their own variant depending on the practice. Later end of Qing Dynasty and the modern era, a new type Luo Pan emerge called the Zong He 综合 Luo Pan. Zong He means integrated. Zong He is a mix of San He and San Yuan rings within the same Luo Pan. Even till today, many modern celebrity master’s schools uses the Zong He Luo Pan.
However, the basic rings regardless of school is always the Early Heaven Bagua Rings & The Lo Shu is always the same.
How to differentiate between a San Yuan and a San He or Zong He Luo Pan? One way is by the 24 mountain ring and the existence of the 64 hexagram ring.
The Heaven’s pool or Tian Chi 天池 is where the needle is and is always in the center. The needle is made with one end pointed and the other with a ring. The Ring represents the North pole while the sharp end is the South pole. When it is properly aligned, the Ring should be in between 2 red dots or at the zero degrees.
This is the heart of the Luo Pan. You can get a Luo Pan for less than 40 US dollar or up to a few hundred dollars. There is a quality difference due to the accuracy of the needle. Perhaps to an 8 mansion practitioner this is not important but as you are an more advance practitioner, where the alignment can go down to less than a degree, it becomes very crucial. This is why Professional Feng Shui practitioners protect their the Luo Pan very carefully & will never compromise the quality of their Luopan.
A good Luo Pan can last for many years and do not lose it’s accuracy if it is well taken care of. Just like the importance of a good samurai to the warrior, the Luopan is to the master.
If you wish to purchase as Feng Shui Compass Luo Pan you may visit this site. If you wish to learn more about LuoPan you may wish to read the book by Master Francis Leyau.
To be continued….