The Luo Pan compass (sometimes referred to as a Lo Pan) has been developed in China over the last 2,000 years. As every traditional Feng Shui master of note has added his knowledge and experience to the Luo Pan during this time, it contains the sum total of Feng Shui knowledge to date and is therefore invaluable to a Feng Shui professional.
"Luo" means a net that encompasses everything, whilst "pan" means utensil or plate. This allegorically refers to the union of Heaven and Earth and specifically to the electro magnetic field that holds all matter together.
Just like any other magnetic compass, the Luo Pan is a direction finder. However, unlike most compasses, a Luo Pan needle points towards the south magnetic pole. A Feng Shui compass also looks very different from normal compasses as the compass itself is embedded into a wood or metal free moving circular plate known as the "Heaven Dial". This is where the rings and Feng Shui formulas are shown.
The Heaven Dial sits on a square wooden base, known as the "Earth Plate" and there is often a spirit level in one corner of the Earth Plate to ensure that the compass is being held level. To find a direction and the specific information regarding that direction, a colorful wire or thread should cross through the centre of the Luo Pan.
A conventional compass normally only shows four or eight directions and although it can be used for Feng Shui purposes, a Luo Pan shows the full 360 degrees, the twenty four directions known as the "Twenty Four Mountains", as well as various formulas relating to the direction. These all allow the practitioner to be extremely accurate as to the orientation of the building and the specific energy of the direction.
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The information on a professional Luo Pan is typically written in Chinese, not just because Feng Shui originated in China, but because the many Chinese characters shown on a traditional Luo Pan contain hidden information and formulas that cannot easily be shown or explained using English words. Quite simply, translating all the information shown on a traditional Luo Pan into English would make the Luo Pan impossibly large and unmanageable.
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