What Is a Chinese Abacus and How Is It Used in Feng Shui?

An abacus on the table
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The abacus is an old calculator that was used in cultures around the world for many centuries. Even though it has a simple, basic look, the abacus can be used for quite a few mathematical calculations. Not as many as the modern calculator, of course, but still quite a few for such a basic looking tool.

The Chinese abacus, also called suanpan for counting tray, has been used since about 2nd century BC and is still in use today. It has the look of a rectangular board with several rods—usually ten or eleven—and many hardwood beads. There is an upper deck (with two beads on each rod) and a lower deck (with five beads) in the Chinese abacus, all used for different computations.

The abacus is closely associated with money and prosperity, so in time the Chinese abacus became a popular feng shui cure for wealth. The abacus is being used by many business people in the hope of "ringing more sales," so to speak, so to wear a small abacus as a keychain, for example, or to have one displayed in your business is thought to attract more sales, thus more money.

As a feng shui cure, the Chinese abacus is usually made of brass; the golden look emphasizes the wealth aspects of this cure. There are several feng shui guidelines for the placement of Chinese abacus, mainly depending on the specific form of the abacus.

If your Chinese abacus is a small keychain—a popular interpretation of this cure—then its use is obvious. Just clip it to your keys and wear it with you! The use as a keychain is popular with many feng shui cures—from Pi Yao to Chi Lin— because it allows for a constant presence, as well as interaction with the energy of a specific talisman/cure.

For the Chinese abacus of a larger size, here are the feng shui placement guidelines:

  1. Display it in the Northwest bagua area, the area related to benefactors, mentors and receiving heavenly help/blessings.
  2. Place it in your lucky direction for wealth. Best to display it in your lucky area in your living room or office, make sure never to display the abacus in the bathroom.
  3. If your career is connected to counting numbers, meaning you work in accounting, engineering, or a similar field, you can display the Chinese abacus in the Northeast bagua area connected to personal growth and self-cultivation.
  4. If you own a retail store, you can display a golden abacus close to the cash register. It is not necessary to have it in plain sight, but it is considered auspicious to shake the abacus at the beginning of each business day to activate its energy and attract more sales.

As with any feng shui cure, or symbol, be sure to treat it respectfully and, of course, be sure you like it. There has to be a good connection between you and the feng shui cure for its energy to work for you.