Pricey fengshui items a sign of market's fortune

SINGAPORE - A crystal Buddha sculpture accompanied by two quartz dragons is on sale for an eye-watering $3.2 million - a sign of the burgeoning popularity of fengshui artefacts.

There are no buyers yet for the 60cm ornament, sold by the Lotus on Water gallery in Sin Ming Plaza, but Chinese geomancy artefacts are selling well here - and coming with hefty price tags.

It is the most expensive item carried by the five galleries owned by the firm, which claims each sells between $300,000 and $1 million worth of artefacts a month. Their prices are upwards of a few thousand dollars.

Lotus on Water made the headlines last month when it took a businessman to court for refusing to pay up for a Goddess of Mercy statue, which was priced at over $576,000.

Fengshui, or the oriental belief in the "energy" of the environment and the harmony between humans and their surroundings, typically involves consultations with masters in the discipline.

Some, such as the Way OnNet Group, offer both consultancy services and fengshui items. The group once sold a "blessed stone" for $68,000 to a Singaporean corporate client who wanted to improve his business.

The firm said its artefacts range in price from $18 to $88,000 and are blessed by in-house geomancer Tan Khoon Yong.

Business is brisk, it added, with about 20 to 30 items sold each day - netting about $50,000 a month. During the peak period around Chinese New Year, each day could see more than 100 pieces sold.

Geomancers who spoke to The Straits Times said they sometimes recommend items to clients that can "improve their luck or fortune". These include amulets, minerals, crystals and figurines, which can be placed at home or in the office.

Master Kelly Wong from Dai Tian Ge Geomancy said: "Most regular customers and new customers alike typically come for a consultation before purchasing recommended items afterwards."

At Way OnNet, the best-selling item is the $308 "Flying Star Emblem", a set of numbered cubes made of coloured glaze which is said to be able to enhance the buyer's fortune. About 800 to 1,000 pieces have been sold in the last two years, the firm said.

Buyers said the potential benefits offered by fengshui items outweigh their cost.

"We want to improve the luck and health of the family," said Ms Shanice Yong, 38, who was advised by a geomancer to buy a moving water feature for her balcony.

"It gives us peace of mind."

But Madam Ng Siew Hua, whose shop in Fu Lu Shou Complex sells fengshui items, said she never tells her customers that certain products will bring them wealth or prosperity.

"To me, these items are pieces of art," she said. "I price them based on their inherent material value."

Even some geomancers themselves do not believe in selling such items to their customers.

Master Hoe Peng Koon of Ji Yang Professional Geomancy Services said: "A house should be clean and uncluttered. The accessories have minimal effect if the layout is not correct.

"The location and environment have more fengshui impact than minor accessory items."

Master Ang Tian Cheong, who has been a geomancer at People's Park Complex for 21 years, also baulks at the idea of selling fengshui artefacts.

"In my 22 years of practice, I have never asked my clients to buy anything," he said. "Fengshui is fundamentally about positioning and environment, not about items.

"Selling items is something people come up with, a kind of business idea, to earn money," he added.

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