At a party I attended some weeks ago conversation turned to feng shui and its potential for generating wealth. The advice was to locate the “wealth position” in one’s house, place there a white porcelain receptacle that curves inwards and put one’s spare change into it. By doing so, one is supposed to acquire wealth, which may come in the form of a raise, higher business revenues or a windfall.

“Does a toilet bowl count as a white porcelain receptacle that curves inwards?” I asked. That did not go down well and I was admonished for my levity.

The patron deity venerated by feng shui masters and practitioners is Chulizi (died 300BC), a member of the royal family in the state of Qin. Known by various names and titles, Chulizi, whose birth name was Ying Ji, was born during the Warring States Period. In contemporary and latter-day accounts, he was depicted as an excellent administrator and military commander.

It was said he could even predict the future. Having chosen his burial site, he predicted that 100 years hence his grave would be sandwiched between the palaces of a king. True enough, when Liu Bang established the Western Han dynasty in 206BC, two of the imperial palaces were built east and west of Chulizi’s grave.