The Chinese have long been fascinated with numbers. Chinese numerology dates back as far as four thousand years ago. The place that is believed to be the first venue of Chinese numerology is the Yellow River. The story of the emperor Wu of Sai and the mysterious tortoise happened on the banks of this river. It was told that Emperor Wu was anxious over finding a solution to the countless floods that had ravaged the homes within the vicinity of the river. While he was working on the river banks, he chanced upon a tortoise shell. The Chinese at that time took the symbol of the tortoise as good luck. This tortoise shell however was very peculiar as it contained markings of nine dots set on a grid model. This pattern then became the model for the Lo Shu Grid, which is still in very wide use today.
The Lo Shu Grid is also known by another term which is Magic Square. When the numbers on the Lo Shu Grid are summed, they always total the number fifteen (15). The Chinese hold the number fifteen as very favorable. Fifteen is the number of days connecting the full moon and the new moon, and the number five, which is a lucky and very significant number for the Chinese, is located in the center of the Lo Shu Grid.
The Lo Shu Grid is a very important tool nowadays in Chinese architecture, and in the building of homes and other structures. The Lo Sho Grid dictates whether a certain position, angle, or placement can bring auspiciousness to a home or to the dwellers themselves.
The Chinese believe that numbers or the combination thereof have a magical quality. In the same vein, when numbers are arranged unfavorably, they can spell bad luck. For them numbers can signify life, prosperity, accidents, and death. For example, the Chinese believe that a number combination that starts with 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 are favorable. The number four (4) is usually avoided because when spoken, it sounded like the Cantonese word for death.
The Chinese also assign yin and yang qualities to the numbers. Yin and Yang for the Chinese embody an understanding on how everything in the universe works. Yin and Yang represents the opposing forces of this world. Yin is usually associated with coldness, passivity, and darkness. Yang on the other hand, represents brightness, activity, and strength. Therefore, the Chinese prefer Yang qualities over the Yin. The numbers often associated with Yang qualities are the odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9). The even numbers (2, 4, 6, and 8) are yin.
However, most Chinese still consider the number eight (8) to be quite auspicious. Unlike the number four (4) which sounds like the Cantonese word for death when spoken, the number eight (8) when spoken sounds like “prosperous”. Eight is often symbolized as growth, and having potential. Also, when the number eight is drawn, it illustrates a curved line that ends in an upward direction. For the Chinese, this represents progress and continuity. This clearly illustrates that the Chinese do not only associate numbers with yin and yang qualities, but also assign them meanings according to the way they sound. For example, the most popular number combinations would be 328 and 888. When spoken in Cantonese, they sound almost the same as “business will easily prosper” or “thrice prosperous”. Seven sounds almost the same as “for sure”, so when combined with the number eight, this will translate to “prosperous for sure”, or “certainly prosperous”. Unlike in Biblical numerology wherein six stands for mortality, and falls short of the number of perfection which is seven, the Chinese hold the number six in high esteem. This is because six can be derived by three unto itself. The number three (3) in Chinese is lucky because it is one of the odd numbers, and is therefore embodying the elements of the positive yang. Also, the least amount of points needed in the formation of a geometrical shape is three. Two points would simply create a line. Therefore, three is represented by a new beginning, and to double that (which is six), means to double everything that had been started. Equally, the number 666 is very favorable with the Chinese. This means to triple the auspiciousness brought about by the number six.
Feng Shui and Chinese numerology are often related. Feng Shui is governed by the five basic elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. This Chinese practice is to seek harmony and balance among the five basic elements. Each element has an association with a particular number, which makes it related with numerology.
For example, wood symbolizes the tree. Therefore it is often correlated with the numbers three (3) and four (4). It is worth recalling that the Chinese believe three to be the number of new beginnings. Fire is the element of energy and inspiration, denoted by the number nine (9). Earth is the element of security, and is therefore imperative in the attainment of goals. The numbers denoted by this are two (2), five (5), and eight (8). Metal, used in coins and other monetary instruments designate wealth. The numbers associated with metal are six (6) and seven (7). And lastly, water is symbolized by resiliency, and having the ability of breaking through almost anything. This is linked to the number one (1).