Reviving traditional burial rituals with feng shui: changing landscapes in China

Youcao Ren, Jan Woudstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For centuries feng shui structured the practice of burial in China, only to be prohibited during the People’s Republic when it was declared illegal. With the Reform and Opening-up policy after 1978, feng shui practices have surreptitiously been revived. This paper explores these burial rituals and the way they are impacting on the landscape, both physically and socially. After providing some historical context to indicate how burial was practised prior to the Republican era, this paper explores how feng shui has been revived after 1978. With case studies from Zhejiang province, the work of two practitioners is followed, one in a rural area, and the other in an affluent city. In this region cremation of remains has become the norm since 1997, yet feng shui burial has continued to be practised. While feng shui is possible within public cemeteries, plots in the countryside are also common. With increasing wealth and mobility, the option of feng shui burial is now available to many, which can cause conflicts raising questions as to the need for legalisation of the practice and regulatory policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


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