Subtitled “The Oldest Known Method of Fortune Telling in the World,” Chien Tung is a Chinese method of daily fortune telling.

A Chein Tung set consists of a prophecy book and a hollow cylinder containing seventy eight wooden sticks. The cylinder is usually black, marked with a circular red pattern – the lid is red and marked with the same pattern in black. The sticks are around fifteen centimetres long and painted red at the tips. Each is marked with an Arabic number and a Chinese kanji.

The day’s fortune is divined by grasping the container in both hands, shaking it “firmly with confidence,” then “perceiving quickly the first well-chosen stick.” The divinee must also be focusing on a wish for the day whilst shaking the box.

The numbered stick corresponds to a verse listed in the book, “in poetic form to aid your future memory.” The passages all follow the same pattern, with a rhyming couplet foretelling your luck, a four-line poem on general fortunes, then a one-line fortune-cookie style divination referring to more specific (yet still artfully ambiguous) happenings. The final line forecasts the chances of your wish coming true.

As an example, my stick today: Number Thirty Five.

No. 35
Your luck is only fair today,
Little sunshine, little hay.
You’re apt to be too careless,
Towards habits loose you’re bent,
They’ll never bring you happiness
Nor any great content.
You will soon have a pleasant adventure.
You may get your wish later on.

However, beware! The Chien Tung warns that “the particular stick indicates, but does not guarantee, your future – just as a road sign points your way but you must decide and travel the route yourself.”

All quotes are from the Chein Tung fortune book.

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