You are here
Reshaping the future? Hong Kong's face readers
[HONG KONG] Want to improve your performance at work, or solve relationship problems? Li Chau-jing has the solution - plucking your eyebrows to help achieve those life goals.
A trained face reader, Ms Li has taken the ancient Chinese tradition one step further, making slight changes to her client's brows to bring them better luck.
Stalls practising the face-reading discipline, which dates back more than 2,000 years, are still found in market streets and near temples in modern-day Hong Kong.
Practitioners believe they can determine a client's fate by interpreting their features - a strong brow translates to the person's ability to plan ahead, high cheekbones can point to power.
The face can be read like a book, they say, a showcase of a person's wealth, health and family.
But Ms Li claims she can help alter the path of destiny with a few flicks of her tweezers.
"It's an instant change and you can change it for everyone," she told AFP, describing her clientele as ranging from just a few years old to in their 70s.
"I can help a person in the shortest amount of time, by bringing them energy and happiness and the goal they want to reach," Ms Li said.
Wearing a long white dress with a ruffled high collar and purple polka-dots, the former make-up artist says she has studied the art of face reading with a mentor.
She has been running her shop in the working class neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po for six years and its walls are covered with photos of her clients' eyes and brows.
Women tend to come to her to solve emotional or relationship problems, men for better luck at work, she says.
Ms Li, who refused to give her age but said she has worked for 43 years, believes straight brows will bring more luck and happiness than curved.
"If the brows are very straight, then those people will not have to suffer through many hardships," she says.
Customer Edward Lam, a 35-year-year old technician for a television station, said he felt more energetic after having his brows modified.
"The biggest goal I have for fixing my eyebrows is to find jobs and to have better networking, and that my career will improve," Mr Lam told AFP.
"I believe that the impression I gave was better," he said of job interviews since having his brows worked on by Ms Li.
Traditional Hong Kong face reader Chow Hon-ming says the art is a scientific discipline that ties in with some of the tenets of traditional Chinese medicine.
Face reading has been practised in China for thousands of years but became a popular practise in the 10th century because the social upheaval in the dying days of the Tang Dynasty prompted many to worry more about their fate, Mr Chow said.
"There are turning points in a person's life, and when you can't make a decision at those points, you might want to seek a (face reading) master," Mr Chow said.
A face reader starts with the left ear, which tells the story of the first seven years of a person's life. The right ear reflects the next seven years, followed by the nose, eyes and chin, which are used to predict later life.
Different parts of the face also represent different topics.
A jutting chin and a squarish jaw mean a person will have power as they get older, while large exposed nostrils mean they are bad at saving money.
"The nose represents wealth, just look at (actor) Jackie Chan's nose, it is very big," says Mr Chow, who also predicted Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election as her chin is "stronger" than rival Donald Trump's.
Mr Chow said tweaking features like eyebrows could give fortunes a short-term boost - but warned against making drastic changes, describing plastic surgery as potentially doing more harm than good.
While some may prefer eyebrow-plucking Ms Li's proactive approach, others are happy to stick to tradition.
Dozens of packed stalls next to Hong Kong's popular Wong Tai Sin Temple offer face reading to thousands of worshippers and tourists visiting the religious hot-spot.
Chinese tourist Fu Xiaohong, 26, says she came here to have her face read in order to deal with a personal matter.
"I have some longing in my heart," she said near one stall where diagrams of faces and palms were displayed.
Ms Fu said she felt more confident after her session, but that she also took the advice she was given with a grain of salt.
"I don't fully believe in it - I just came to try it out."