A wonderful set of Chinese fortune telling sticks in a black leatherette cylinder box. There are 60 numbered bamboo sticks and a booklet.
The practice of using fortune telling sticks, also known as Kau Chim, originated in China from the Jin Dynasty and eventually spread to Japan and Thailand. People visiting Buddist and Taoist temples would perform the ritual in front of an altar to get answers from a sacred oracle. The number of sticks in a set ranges from 36 up to 100 and a German version had 420 sticks classified into 24 categories.
Now known as ‘Lottery poetry’, the practice is still performed in mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore.
This is a contemporary set which has been specially made to appear very old. The sticks measure 16cm, each have a red end for selection, a number and a message in Chinese. A separate booklet is used to identify the ‘fortune’. The wooden and leatherette cylinder featuring two dragons measures approx. 19.5cm and the set is in good condition.
As the booklet suggests:
‘Grasp the container firmly with both hands, shake deftly with confidence, perceive quickly the first well chosen stick, read out its numbered passage from the text, ponder deeply the future so indicated, and realise its applicability as your future becomes the living present.’
Note that those who live in the Far East know that the Chinese perform this very personal method not as a fortune telling game, but as a naturally based, historically practised and religious art.
A wonderful Oriental version of the practise of fortune telling.