Owls in Chinese Culture and as Feng Shui Symbol (Meaning, History, Usage)

Owls in Chinese Culture and as Feng Shui Symbol

Owls, because of their association with darkness and nighttime activities, naturally lend themselves to metaphorical connotations linked with the unknown and unseen spirit realm. Because of its nocturnal habit, the owl has a wide range of meanings in many civilizations. Sometimes it signifies good luck and other times it portends bad luck.

In Chinese tradition, they are often supposed to be bad luck omens, but this is not always the case. Owls, according to the Chinese, may convey both positive and bad energy.

On the other hand, as a Feng Shui symbol, it is very auspicious. It represents good luck, wealth, wisdom, knowledge, and protective energies, among others.

In this article, we deal with both the meaning of the owl in Chinese culture and its meaning as a symbol in Feng Shui. While there appear to be conflicting beliefs, it all boils down to how each individual interprets the natural abilities of this magnificent bird. Let’s get started.

Owls in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, owls are considered unlucky animals. This is due to the owl’s association with death, darkness, and the underworld. Some people think that owls represent the reincarnated spirits of those who died unfairly or through suicide. As a result, keeping an owl as a pet or giving an owl as a gift is not recommended.

In Chinese, the owls are known as mao-tou-ying (cat-headed hawk) and xiao (bravery). Even though bravery is one of the meanings, owls are not always seen in a good light.

According to folklore, young owls only flee the nest after pecking out their mothers’ eyes.

Owls are associated with mystery, mysticism, secrets, intellect, and death since they are nocturnal birds with excellent night vision.

People thought its big, staring eyes were demonic, and its scary call sounds like the word for “digging a grave” in some dialects. This can be interpreted as a link between death and owls. When an owl hoots, it is thought that disease or death will occur in that home. People also think that the sound is a sign or warning that someone will die and they should start digging a grave.

When people spot owls near their homes, they burn dry shrubs in the hopes that the odor will drive the birds away. People also think that owls have magical powers that could have unexpected effects, so they put upside-down brooms outside their homes to scare away owls and protect their homes and the people who live in them.

That’s why it’s never a good idea to try to kill or even touch an owl. Another reason to avoid owls is the notion that they steal people’s souls.

Despite the fact that owls are feared, they are linked with the thunder and lightning gods in some areas of China, hence owl effigies are placed on top of roofs to ward off fire and other destructive forces. As a talisman, they are used to ward off evil spirits.

Owls in Chinese Culture
Image by Chräcker Heller from Pixabay

Owl and Phoenix in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, there are stunning pieces of old Chinese art depicting the phoenix’s immortality mixed with the owl’s legendary fierceness.

The owl is sometimes referred to be the phoenix’s polar opposite. This may indicate that it is the polar opposite of luck and happiness.

However, depending on how it is represented, the phoenix has a dual identity. It is, for example, a potent sign of yang energy. But when a dragon is added to the picture, it takes on a yin quality. So owls may also represent the polar opposite of darkness and weirdness.

Fact: It’s interesting to note that English and Chinese actually have a phrase that refers to owls: 夜猫子(yè mo zi) means “night owl” and refers to a person who works at night and sleeps during the day.

The Owl in Chinese Archaeology

The Chinese have always thought of the owl as a scary animal because of how it looks and how loudly it calls.

But our Neolithic ancestors throughout the Shang (1600–1046 BC) and Zhou (1046–256 BC) dynasties saw owls in a different light.

Archaeologists found things with owls on them in the ancient Shang Dynasty capital city of Yin, as well as in the Shanxi, Hubei, and Hunan provinces.

Liu Dunyuan, a historian and archeologist, said that because owls are nocturnal, ancient people might have thought of them as guardians of the night.

Ma Chengyuan,  an archaeologist and former head of the Shanghai Museum, argues that owls were revered by the Shang people as the god of war and bestowed with the ability to prevent conflict.

The most renowned owl artifacts are two “zun” discovered in the tomb of Fu Hao.

Fu Hao, also known as Lady Hao, was one of King Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty’s three consorts. She was also a military commander, politician, and priestess.

A “Zun” is a sort of Chinese ceremonial wine container.

The owl’s head has a pair of huge horns, bulging eyes, and short ears. The rear of its skull is shaped like a lid. The owl’s neck and beak are designed with taotie, a mythological fearsome animal in Chinese folklore.

The letters “Fu Hao” are written within the mouth of the vessel.

In addition to the two bronze goods, six owl-shaped jade objects were discovered in Fu Hao’s grave.

So far, the most owl-shaped objects have been found in Fu Hao’s tomb, which shows how much she liked this sacred animal.

The Owl in Chinese Archaeology
A Bronze vessel in the form of an owl from the Fu Hao Tomb by Professor Gary Lee Todd. ( GFDL 1.3)

The Owl Symbol in Feng Shui

In feng shui, the owl is a symbol of good luck, knowledge, wisdom, and protection. It is popular among individuals working in education or research. This is because the owl symbol is strongly connected with knowledge, intellect, and wisdom. The owl is also regarded as a potent totem in ancient Chinese philosophy, attracting fortune and abundance.

Knowing where to put this symbol can also provide positive masculine “Yang” chi or energy to your home or business.

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How to Use the Owl Symbol in Feng Shui

Here are some creative ways to use the owl symbol at your house or office:

To Ward Off Negative Energy

Negative energy is something that no one likes to be around. It causes a lack of desire, exhaustion, sickness, rage, and poor luck. You might banish these energies by using the Feng Shui owl symbol. It should ideally be placed in an area that needs protection and a lot of good energy. Choose a figurine with a gold finish or a cute picture of a family of owls as a beautiful decoration.

Placement of the Owl Symbol Outside Your Home

The owl is associated with both wisdom and the capacity to see what is otherwise hidden from plain sight. To protect against any invisible disruptive forces that may enter, put a decorative owl sculpture facing away from the home or front entrance.

Moreover, if the direction of traffic is perpendicular to your house, you can utilize an owl to counter the busy road. The oncoming traffic forms a poison arrow that might lead to loss of health or fortune.

The owl figure facing the traffic deflects the energy of the poison arrow, making it possible for only good energy, or positive chi, to enter your home.

Contribute to Better Money Circulation

The owl symbol is frequently employed to promote the development and flow of riches. This is due to the fact that the owl symbolism in Feng Shui is associated with prosperity, which leads to greater money circulation. Place a beautiful picture of the bird in the southeast or south corner of fame and reputation.

The Owl Symbol in Feng Shui
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

To Enhance Knowledge and Wisdom

Since the owl is seen as a symbol of wisdom, its presence might aid draw knowledge and intellect.

Placing it on a work or study table ensures that you are surrounded by positive energies that offer success, wisdom, and knowledge. Hanging some cute owls on the wall of the study room wouldn’t just be a nice touch, it would also be the perfect solution for academic achievement. Put them in the northeast or northwest corner.

Bring in Positive Yang Energy

The owl symbol brings a lot of good yang energy. Place the owl images in specific areas of the house that need more support from strong energies.

At Your Altar

An altar is a designated area in your home in which you might keep spiritual reminders, self-cultivation tools, and other items like meditation cushions and crystals. If the owl means something to you, this is a great spot to place an image of it.

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Pairs of Owls Bring Good Fortune

The owl’s dual advantages of protection and wisdom serve as a barrier against bad luck and physical dangers, attracting sage mentors and promoting clear visionary thinking. Also, putting a pair of friendly owl figurines in your bedroom may help strengthen your relationship.

Place Owls in Your Home or Office

An owl figurine boosts positive energy in your house or workplace in the areas of “career”, “knowledge”, and “children and creativity.”

To show how highly valued intellectual activities are in your house, you may install an owl exhibit over your mantel.

A picture of an owl in the “fame and reputation” or “helpful people and travel” area of your conference room might make deals and negotiations go in your favor.

Does it matter what kind of owl figure you use?
Image by Jevgeni Fil from Pixabay

Does it matter what kind of owl figure you use?

No, you don’t need a Feng Shui owl to do this practice and benefit from this symbol’s good energy. It is the owl’s symbol that is important.

You may decorate with owl-themed items like figurines, wallpaper, and paintings. From cute to serious, it may be incorporated into your home’s feng shui.

How to Enhance the Benefits of Feng Shui Practice.

The placing of the owl alone is insufficient to bring the Feng Shui system to life. People who have used Feng Shui and seen its benefits also suggest making a few changes to one’s lifestyle.

These include being thankful and appreciating what they already have. In addition, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and to watch what you say and do.

The act of giving to others in need and doing good deeds is another way to clear the negative energy.

The advantages should come to you as quickly as possible if you take these steps and have the appropriate owl in Feng Shui placement.


That concludes our summary of the owl’s significance in Chinese culture and Feng Shui. Its associated advantages and some important placement guidelines for fostering the conditions necessary to attract financial success, good fortune, and wisdom.

When it comes to symbols, it’s beneficial to investigate the historical precedent but also to balance it with your own inherent wisdom. We invite you to search within yourself and take a step back from the tendency to rely on a binary assessment of whether something is “good” or “bad.” What do owls signify to you, instead? If you’re feeling indifferent or uninterested, that’s the attitude to adopt. If you like owls, this symbol may be meaningful and helpful to you as an animal to bring into your home to improve your feng shui. But if you have a bad feeling about owls, it might be good feng shui to learn more about what the bird means to you.

If you think other people might benefit from reading this, please forward it to them so that they, too, can enjoy the benefits of good fortune and financial success. They will definitely appreciate it.

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Featured Image by vishnu vijayan from Pixabay

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