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|In feng shui, money is not an issue|
Feng shui is a Chinese metaphysical and quasi-philosophical system that seeks to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. In Vietnam, many believe that their work and daily life will go smoothly if they place some objects, which they believe have some power, in their houses.
The feng shui market at the end of the Year of the Rooster is diverse, with gilded paintings and feng shui dogs standing on gems that cost up to $30,000. The buyers tend to be businesspeople, and thus they want feng shui pieces that will flaunt their power and social status.
Pointing to the gilded statue, Le Van Hung, seller of feng shui objects on Hanoi’s De La Thanh street, said, “The Tran Hung Dao statue was formerly popular in bronze and wood. But recently, we received more orders for Tran Hung Dao statues in gold. They put the statues in their living rooms with respect to feng shui principles.
“Saint Tran Hung Dao, who defeated the invading Mongols three times over, has such a reputation of victory that people use his effigies to ward off diseases and ghosts. Since the trend of gold-coated feng shui paraphernalia has grown, we have had to open two more stores to serve customer demand.”
The conversation is interrupted by visitors who want to see the products.
Placing the statue of the saint down on the table, a 50-year-old man gives Hung $20,000, stating, “Write the receipt, I placed this order in advance. You will be rewarded if it goes well.”
The most difficult requirements are from businesspeople who want feng shui statues made entirely of gold, the so-called ‘monolithic gold’. Hung said, however, that he does not dare to place such high-risk orders despite the clients’ demand. Customers are not only interested in their feng shui purposes, but also care about the luxury value of the items. They are placed in the house to add opulence to its surroundings.
Hanoi’s Nguyen Thai Hoc is a street 1.5 kilometres long and adorned with dozens of shops selling shiny gold-coated things. Previously, this street was known for selling paintings. However, some stores have recently taken to the market, turning to the sale of gold-coated items. Nguyen Thi Hien, a shop owner at 175 Nguyen Thai Hoc, said, “The shop wares targeted at foreign buyers are often under $400. However, the gilded calligraphy pictures are just a display. Mostly, my clients prefer to customise the content of their paintings or the size of the statue depending on the size of their living room. Prices vary also, ranging from hundreds of dollars up to $30,000 per contract, as most people who are interested in feng shui are businesspeople or successful people in society.”
Hien told us that the requested themes are focused on dragons or well-wishing greetings. Hien’s customers have been repeat clients for several years.
“Early on, they bought items of $100 to $200 when they started doing business, or when they started out as an assistant. By now, these people have millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions of dollars. By the end of the year, when they are looking to buy something new as a gift for a partner or relative, they come here.”
The trend in gold-coated feng shui objects has been around for about three years, but the development speed of shops hoping to meet the demand is also rapidly increasing. It is not difficult to find feng shui items in shops along the Hanoi streets of Nguyen Thai Hoc, Le Duan, and De La Thanh.
Le Duan, the street that used to specialise in the sale of bronze worship objects, has also changed into one selling gold. “Gold-plated statues were sold throughout the year. We sold gilded calligraphy paintings or zodiac animal statues at the end of year. For example, this year is the Year of the Dog and the manufacturers have given us several dozens of dog statue samples,“ said Tran Thi Giang, a shopowner.
This gold-coated trend for feng shui items is richly abundant in the turn of this Lunar New Year. In the culture of spiritual life, dogs are intelligent, loyal, and are guardians of the house. Therefore, the dog statues are a favourite purchase to look after the owner’s assets. The Faithful Dog statue is worth around $5,000 and the Victory Dog statue, wearing a diamond necklace and standing on a green Liuli gemstone, is priced at around $30,000.
“Customers often prefer objects that not only bring about good luck, but are also rare, as these have been proven to be the most valuable items. The buyers are businesspeople, therefore, in term of assets, feng shui objects have to show off their money, power, and ability to their partners and relatives,” according to Duong Anh Duc, director of a Viet feng shui centre.