A fascinating set of vintage Chinese fortune telling sticks in a wooden cylinder box. There are 36 sticks all having a different message: some good and some not quite so good!
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 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.
There are no instructions with the set but I understand the ritual is traditionally practiced by the ‘Querent’ (person performing the ritual) kneeling on the floor and then asking their question. The lid is then taken off and the cylinder is held in both hands then shaken gently until one single stick falls out. The stick is then read to see the answer or fortune of the Querent. If multiple sticks fall out the ritual needs to begin again.
The sticks measure 17cm, each have a red end for selection, a number and a message. The wooden cylinder measures just over 20cm. The wooden box is in good condition with just a few tiny nicks and the sticks are in excellent condition.
A wonderful Oriental version of the practise of fortune telling.