Mien Shiang: Face Reading – How it Works

Face and Body reading, otherwise known as physiognomy, has been around for centuries.

Mien Shiang is a 3,000-year-old Taoist practice that means literally face (mien) reading (shiang). In just moments, one can determine anyone’s Wu XingFive Element personality typetheir character, behavior, and health potential — by analyzing their face.

Mr GuiguziClassic Chinese Face Reading originally derived from Daoist philosophy, and the oldest Chinese writing on this topic is commonly credited to Mr. Guiguzi (Ghost Valley Scholar: 481-221 BC), whose work is still in print to this very day.

In recent times the art of Face Reading is becoming more and more popular. Schools that teach Mien Shiang are becoming more wide spread. Face mapping is rapidly taking center stage at spas and clinics, and combines ancient Chinese medicine and clinical dermatological procedures.


The five elements

450px-Wu_XingThe Taoist Five Elements, Wood ( ), Fire ( huǒ), Earth ( ), Metal ( jīn), and Water ( shuǐ) are metaphors devised by the ancient Taoist philosophers to explain the relationship, interaction, and ongoing change of everything in the Universe.

Five Element Theory is utilized in Chinese Medicine and stems from ancient Chinese philosophy. The five elements are symbolic for different phases, or primal forces within the universe, nature, and our bodies. Each element is also attributed to a certain personality archetype. Knowing which element(s) predominates our personalities can help further insight into our lives and relationships.

Five Element Personality Questionairy >>


With only a rudimentary knowledge of the constructive/destructive 5 phase cycles, you can be creative in finding personalized cures by weakening that which is too strong and strengthening that which is too weak.

The constructive cycles of nature:

Water creates/becomes Wood
Wood creates/becomes Fire
Fire creates/becomes Earth
Earth creates/becomes Metal
Metal creates/becomes Water

The destructive cycles of nature:

Water controls/destroys Fire
Fire controls/destroys Metal
Metal controls/destroys Wood
Wood controls/destroys Earth
Earth controls/destroys Water


How to use Mien Shiang 


350The age-old Taoist practice of Mien Shiang is an art and a science that means literally face (mien) reading (shiang). It is an accurate means of self-discovery, and a great way to help us understand others. As the ancient Taoists said, the face records the past, reflects the present, and forecasts the future.

What we look for when we read a face are the characteristics associated with the sizes and shapes and positions of each facial feature, as well as the lines, shadings and marking that appear on the face. Simply by looking at someone’s face, we can determine his or her character, personality, health, wealth potential, social standing, and longevity. 



The basic Chinese face reading is broken down into 12 categories, each feature as important as the other, which can tell a practitioner of this art what your past has been and can supposedly forecast what your future has in stall for you – they are:


1. Fortune House (Fude Gong)
It gives an overview of your general fortune trend. An ideal Fortune House should be round, full and smooth with no visible marks, lines or scars. Flaws in these areas reflect problems in your life, which can be in the form of bad health, distressful relationships or money troubles.

2. Parents House (Fumu Gong)
It is associated with Heaven Luck; in this regard its state is quite a testimony to the situation that your parents were in and your relationship with them. A forehead that is wide, round and shinning speaks of a good family inheritance, a comfortable upbringing and early achievement, while a small, bony or disfigured one illustrates an uneasy childhood.

3. Career House (Guanlu Gong)
Again, being broad, round and smooth is the basic criteria to identify a good Career House. If on the top of that, you also have prominent cheekbones and protruding eyebrows, you shall have a great chance to achieve a great success in your chosen field.

4. House of Travel (Qianyi Gong)
If it is in any way disfigured with scars or deep lines, you might be better off saying put. Furthermore, jobs or businesses involving transportation, tourism or import/export are, understandably, not your best choice.

5. Life House (Ming Gong)
The key to your fortune is deposited here. Naturally, being smooth and shinny is ideal, which suggests a trouble-free life journey. If it is receded, dimpled or scared; or there are permanent horizontal lines between the brows; or eyebrows meet in the middle, you may face a bumping road ahead.

6. House of Siblings (Xiongdi Gong)
Eyebrows and the areas directly above them represent it, and it also oversees your relationship with your friends and colleagues. The state of your hair has a direct connection to the physical conditions of your parents at the time when you were conceived, which means it has a lot to do with your genetic make-ups. Brows that are dark, thick, long, smooth, orderly and located high above eyes indicate a healthy hormone level that gives rise to affection, calmness and courage. If they look sparse, thin, pale, short, or chaotic, or too close to eyes, or marked with a scar, you could be tormented by your own physical or emotional states.

7. Assets House (Tianzhai Gong)
Your eyes betray your intelligence and temperament, and the very quality of these dispositions plays important role in your asset acquisition endeavor. Good Asset Houses are constituted with eyes that are long with large pupils and clear whites, and up-eyelids that are broad and full. Deep-set or dazed eyes disclose dumbness, while recessed or narrow eyelids exhibit impatience. If the whites are colored with red streaks, and worse, if the streaks pass through a pupil, you should brave yourself for a severe storm when your financial aspect is concerned.

8. House of Marriage (Qiqie Gong)
Being full and smooth in appearance indicates a happy marriage. A receded House however rings alarm bell on extra marital affairs. If the area bears visible spots, scars, black moles or messy lines, your marriage could be in serious trouble due to some unscrupulous conduct.

9. House of Children (Ernu Gong)
This area is closely related to cerebellum and also governs your love and sex life, so again, being full and round is better than being flat or receded. Dim moles or slant lines across the area are especially undesirable, suggesting some problems regarding your own sex life or your children’s future development.

10. Health House (Jie Going)
If the House is broken or marked with horizontal lines, or if it is stained with spots, marks or discoloration, you shall pay extra attention to your health, especially your digester system.

11. Wealth House (Caibo Gong)
A nose that has high and straight bridge, big and round tip, full and fleshy wings, and invisible nostrils, not only indicates sound physical health, a positive mental attitude, also denotes success in career and abundance in wealth. On the other hand, a nose that is low, or crooked, pointed, or narrow, bony, or with contoured bridge, upturned tip, visible nostrils, reveal a problematic personality, a troublesome financial situation or a difficult career path. If blood vassals are clearly visible, or a dim blue color tones the surface, an illness or a money loss is on the way. When a nose turns bloody red, which is dubbed Fire in Lounge in Chinese physiognomy, it should be viewed as a serious warning sign – an impending disaster is near.

12. Popularity House (Nupu Going)
This House rules your relationship with your colleagues, subordinates or younger generations, and foretells your situation in your old age. When they are round and full, you can expect to enjoy your popularity among your followers. But if it sharps off, or appears crooked or bony, you probably should forget your dream about being a politician. And what’s more, you’d better prepare for self-support during old age.

Marks, spots, scars on, and even shapes of your face can change over time, meaning your fate can alter through the years. You can utilize your Man Power (your attitudes – good deeds, better learning and hard work) and the Earth Power (your environment – favorable Feng Shui) to neutralize the Heaven Power (your time of birth – what you have inherited from your parents and your previous lives). Ultimately, you are the real creator of your own fate. When you change your heart, you change your face; when you change your face, you change your fate.

Our Faces Accurately Record Our Chronological Passages Of Life

Certain facial traits are inherited from our parents and our ancestors, while others are acquired. These acquired lines, shadings and shapes should be celebrated as ‘proof’ that we have learned our life lessons. If we don’t do our life’s work at the proper times, we can suffer emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So, it’s good to see those markings of passage appear on our faces. People don’t value wisdom if they don’t value aging.

The Face Is a Puzzle With Perfect Pieces 

Every part of the face reveals something significant. There are five to ten unique face shapes, the two sides of the face, the three primary zones, and the twelve principal features.

Puzzle-Face_11935367_mEach of the 12 principal facial features, the

· ears
· hairline
· forehead
· brow bones
· eyebrows
· eyes
· cheeks
· nose
· lips and mouth
· chin
· jaw

tells something specific about the person.

Learning to read the face shapes, the two different sides, the significance of the dominant zone, and all of the features together, is an intricate art.

Here’s Looking At You

Mien Shiang is not about reading facial expressions. Many people have good poker faces; they are experts at covering up their feelings by controlling their expressions. A good bluffer can easily change a look or a movement to fool others. But shapes, positions, lines, shadows, and other facial markings tell the truth. They are foolproof signs, if you know how to read them.

Because Mien Shiang is such a vast, extensive study that can take years to learn – for example, we could easily analyze 30 different types of eyebrows or 47 types of mouths – let’s start off with the bigger picture.

The Two Sides of the Face:

14219The-women-face-with-two-side-with-different-color-wallpaper (1)– the left side represents the true, inner, private self.
– the right side represents the outer, public self.

Suppose you meet someone who has a great smile, but you notice that the right side of their mouth goes up. That is probably someone who is “putting on a good face” – chances are they don’t feel, inside, as happy as they look, on the outside. See? Already, you can read a face!



Who Uses Mien Shiang?

We all use Mien Shiang, all the time.
For instance . . .
. . . when you changed seats because the well-groomed man next to you had narrow, mean eyes,
. . . when you chose the employer with the easy smile over the other who had a tight, thin mouth,
. . . when you advised a friend to see a doctor because you noticed unusually dark circles under his eyes,
. . . when you hired the lesser experienced person for the job because he had the more trusting face,
. . . you were reading faces. You were practicing Mien Shian.

We all have instinctive responses and reactions to people, but Mien Shiang is more than a gut level reaction. Mien Shiang recognizes that every facial shape, size, feature and position has a significant meaning. Each line, shading and marking reveals a little bit more to the whole face reading.

In Part I of this series, we established that the facial features each have distinct characteristics regarding character, personality, health, longevity, wealth, and social status.

chinese_face_reading_1Let us first define each of the 12 major features’ general characteristics:

· ears – risk taking ability, longevity
· hairline – socialization
· forehead – parents’ influence
· brow bones – control
· eyebrows – passion, temper, pride
· eyes – receptivity
· cheekbones – authority
· nose – ego, power, leadership, wealth
· lips and mouth – personality, sexuality
· chin – character, will
· jaw – determination

Now look in the mirror and see how much risk-taking ability you have.
The bigger your ears, the bigger your risks; the smaller your ears, the more cautious you probably are.

Are your eyebrows dark and thick?
If so, it is quite feasible that you have a lot of passion and anger.

What about your eyes?
The more open your eyes, the more open your heart.

Do you have high, prominent cheekbones?
If you do, you are likely to be authoritative. (Some might even call you bossy!)

What if your left eyebrow is thicker than the other?
Remembering that the right side of the face represents the outer, public self and the left side represents the inner, private self, you can see plainly that your face reveals that you are apt to feel more anger (inside) than you show (on the outside).

Take a closer look at your ears. Are they the same size? The same shape? Even the same height?
It’s not unusual for our ‘matching features’ to be different, though most of us do not notice such differences, on ourselves or on others, unless we are looking for them. If, indeed, your right ear is bigger, or more prominent in shape or position, it means that you appear to take more risks than you actually do take.

Interestingly, if our right side features are so much more distinct, or prominent, than the left features, we will sometimes ‘act out’ a certain behavior even though it may go against our inner nature. For instance, some people who have a more prominent right ear find that they take more risks than they actually feel comfortable taking.

Keep looking in the mirror. See if you can establish how much character and will you have, how determined you are, how much ego you have, and how outgoing you are.

Do your features match your feelings? Do you think others see you as you really are?

The Marks of Wisdom and What They Mean  


wrinkle1As we age our face changes. We get wrinkles and lines, dark spots and shadings. And though we tend to resent them, these signs of experience are good because they are recording our chronological passages of life. They are visual proof that we have been feeling the emotions of our experiences, struggling through our difficult times and learning the lessons of life. We can celebrate them as marks of wisdom that come with age.

Most markings appear on an area of the face that represents the age that the emotional experience first occurred. 




The Face Represents a Chronological Map of Experiences:

left ear rim – conception to early childhood
right ear rim – mid childhood to adolescence
hairline to eyebrows – adolescence through the 20s
eyebrow area – early 30s
eye area – mid to late 30s
nose – 40s
mouth area – 50s
chin – 60s
jaw – 70s and beyond

Facial lines and markings generally appear first on the forehead and work their way down to the bottom of the chin over the years. Take a close look at your own face, at your parents’, your children’s, siblings’, friends’ and co-workers’ faces and see if their marks of passage correspond with their ages.

Using Mien Shiang we read the face by interpreting the appearance of the lines and marks. We look for placement, size, shape, depth, color and shading of each line and marking. Lines between the eyes usually appear in the early to mid 30s and are frequently the first lines we notice on our own faces as well as on others. In Mien Shiang we call this area the Seat of the Stamp, or Yin Tong, and issues with father or the dominant parental figure are marked here.

Yin Tong Markings

– a single, vertical line can mean that one has difficulty getting or staying appropriately angry.

– a single, but stronger and deeper, vertical line indicates estrangement from father

– 2 vertical lines means one tends to anger easily

– 3 or more vertical lines suggest the ability to stand up for oneself and use anger appropriately.

– horizontal lines also represent separation from father, or son, or one’s own yang (male) side, as well as women who were never allowed to get angry

– a dark mark, or discoloration, indicates that one is backing off from their power.

The mouth is another area we tend to notice.

Though the predominant lines and markings generally appear in one’s 50s, they often occur as early as one’s 20s. Pursing the lips creates lots of tiny lines cutting into the lips, both top and bottom. Those lines show all the hurts that have been held on to, that have never been forgotten. They belong to the person who has ‘done all the right things’ but hasn’t been ‘rewarded’ for her ‘goodness.’

There are so many, many more lines that appear on the face that reveal our experiences or tendencies. Like the Grief Line than runs down the center or the cheek, or the Fa Ling Lines that show whether or not we are on our Golden Path. The telling lines around the eyes that warn us of an inclination for unfaithfulness, or reveal the pain of unshed tears. As you notice the lines and markings on your own face, as well as on others’, remember . . .

– the right side of the face presents the outer, public self, and that it represents the mother’s influence

– the left side of the face presents the inner, private self, and that it represents the father’s influence.

And remember the significant characteristic and trait that belong to each facial feature. Now look in the mirror and combine what Mien Shian has taught you, so far, about each side of the face, each of the 12 major facial features, and the different lines and markings and their placements. Does Mien Shian help piece together the puzzle of who you really are? 

Health Potential  

The Basics of Chinese Medicine

The earliest book on Chinese medical theory, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic, otherwise known as Nei Jing, by Kwang-Ti, dates back to around 2500 B.C. This book describes how the Chinese view symptoms in relation to the whole body, not as isolated problems to be dealt with on an individual basis.

Western medicine starts with a symptom, then it searches for a cause, then it determines a specific disease. But Chinese medicine looks for the disharmony of natural body energy and does not seek a specific disease. The Chinese method is, therefore, holistic, based on the idea that no single part can be understood except in relation to the whole.

The essential ideas of Chinese medicine are simple. They form a basis of discussion of “what’s going on” in the body. They define the basic landscape of the body as:

Chi: Also known as Qi this is our basic life force and energy, which is formed from maternal energy in the prenatal state then replenished by food and breath. It directs and determines the body’s energy state, and it is predominantly either Yin (passive) or Yang (active) in nature. It flows through the entire body via the meridian network.

Blood: A liquid, Yin in nature that nourishes and maintains the body parts.

Jing: Translated as essence of the body. Supportive and nutritive, it is the basis of reproduction, growth, ripening and withering. Ongoing development through life corresponds to changes in the body’s Jing.

Shen: Best translated as Spirit, an elusive concept in the medical tradition. Human personality and consciousness indicate the presence of Shen, which is the capacity to form ideas and the desire to live life. Shen is Yang in nature.

Fluids: These are bodily liquids other than blood and include sweat, urine, gastric juices and saliva. Their function is to moisten and lubricate the hair, skin, membranes, orifices, muscles, organs and flesh.

Balancing the Meridians

So far, we’ve learned that Chinese analysis looks at the person as an entire being, not separate as in Western medicine. In Chinese medicine, practitioners treat the cause of a problem, whereas those in Western medicine treat the symptoms. Two elements are incorporated into Chinese diagnosis: the constitution of the person – this being the current condition, which varies each day, month and year – and balance. The body needs balance; we do not want to be ecstatically energetic or tired, happy or depressed. If we are in perfect balance, then we are in perfect health.

Chinese Facial Skin Analysis 


402afc7bdeed3a2320f50c25607df281In traditional Chinese medicine, the face is an indicator of health or disease. By studying skin conditions and changes, we can determine inner imbalances and stressed areas of the body. Because each area of the face is said to relate to an internal body area, disharmony in that internal area will, in turn, lead to a change in the complexion, texture or moisture of the corresponding facial area. In general, red, pustular breakouts are indicative of Yang-type energy, and oily, comedone-prone breakouts are indicative of Yin-type energy. Lines indicate a long-term imbalance or stress, while breakouts indicate a more short-term imbalance or stress.

The following information is not intended for medical diagnosis, but merely to illustrate the Chinese approach to facial diagnosis. This information is to be used by the professional skin therapist to provide answers and understanding as to why certain skin problems can manifest on the skin if all Western causes have been considered and provided no help. Do not ever attempt to diagnose a client’s health condition.

Forehead: Linked to digestion. The upper forehead is linked to the bladder and the lower forehead links to the intestines. Check the client’s elimination habits, noting any constipation.

Eyebrows: Linked to the adrenal glands. Coarse hair of the eyebrows indicates adrenal stress, with thick eyebrows being Yang and thin eyebrows being Yin. The adrenal glands are our fight or flight response and secrete over 40 hormones and steroids. Overactive adrenal glands are commonly linked with stress, and lines stemming from the start of the eyebrow are linked with long-term adrenal stress and may correlate with tightness in the shoulder area, which is a referred pain area (pain felt near the site of origin not on it).

Eyes: Linked with the liver. Large eyes, eyes set wide apart, long eyelashes and white showing underneath the iris of the eye are Yin. Eyes that are small and close together are Yang. Eyelid allergies are linked with allergies and lung stress.

Between the Eyes: Linked with the liver. Check the client for a history of hepatitis, jaundice and/or liver stress. A diet that is high in fat, and eating late, may cause this area to show sensitization or flaking. Deep lines from liver stress may also be visible. This is commonly known as the wine and dine area.

Under the Eyes: Linked with the kidneys. Eyes may be puffy (Yin) or darker (Yang). If a client suffers puffiness and fluid retention, she or he needs to improve water intake. Grittiness under the eyes links with an excess of uric acid, common in Yin energy types. A pale white appearance of the inner lid indicates Yin energy, while a red inner lid area indicates Yang energy.

Nose: Linked with the lungs. Naturally large and open nostrils indicate strong lungs. Smaller or flaring nostrils indicate lung stress, allergies and asthma. A long nose is more Yin, and a small nose, pointing upward, is more Yang. Numerous comedones and oiliness over the nose indicate Yin energy, which is prone to colds and bronchitis. Redness, broken capillaries and puffiness over the nose indicate Yang energy, which is prone to allergies, respiratory stress and sinus problems (hay fever, sensitivity to smoke, etc.).

Cheeks: Linked with the lung area. Broken capillaries across the upper cheeks indicate a tendency to allergies and sinus congestion. Pustular breakouts in line with the teeth may indicate sinus or gum inflammation and infection. Comedones and congestion beneath the surface indicate a Yin condition, while red, inflamed, pustular breakouts indicate a more Yang condition.

Mouth: Linked with the stomach and large intestine. The upper lip and cracking/dry lips are Yang and link with stomach/gastric stress. A turned upper lip indicates stomach acid, indigestion or a nervous stomach (Yang). The lower lip links with the large intestine, and a pouty, full lower lip links with constipation and poor elimination (Yin).

Chin: Linked with the reproductive organs. Breakouts in this area are often associated with the menstrual cycle in women. Micro-comedones are often present at the sides of the chin and may erupt into papules or pustules at the onset of menstruation.

Skin Therapy and Chinese Medicine

While skin therapists cannot legally treat disease, we can definitely use Chinese medicine as a way to treat any factors that go along with a disease or health problem. Knowing the medical problems of a client, combined with your knowledge of the body through the Chinese eye, can not only make the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions that much easier, but your client will appreciate the unusual approach and understand just how much you view skin care as a matter of health. Take the opportunity to not only treat your clients’ skin issues, but restore balance to their bodies as well.


Gui Gu Zi (鬼谷子)

is the Chinese title given to a group of writings thought to have been compiled between the late Warring States period and the end of the Han Dynasty. The work, between 6,000-7,000 Chinese characters, discusses techniques of political lobbying based in Daoist thinking.

Mr GuiguziThere has been much speculation about the identity of the writer of “Gui Gu Zi”, the origin of his name (literally ‘The Sage of Ghost Valley’) and the authenticity of the work as a whole. While there has been no final outcome to this discussion, Chinese scholars believe that the compilation reflects a genuine corpus of Warring States period writings on political lobbying. Most writers doubt the assertion that the “Gui Gu Zi” was written by a single personality, Guigu Xiansheng (鬼谷先生), who was said in the ‘Annals of the Grand Historian, Sima Qian’ (司馬遷《史記》蘇秦列傳) to have been the teacher of the late Warring States political lobbyists Su Qin (蘇秦) and Zhang Yi (張儀). A tradition that Guigu Xiansheng was the teacher of renowned Warring States generals Sun Bin (孫臏)and Pang Juan (龐涓)is also considered to be a late confabulation. The association of the name Wang Xu (王詡) is not generally held to be supported. There is no material in the text to support the view held by some that “Guiguzi” is a book on military tactics.

The contents of the Gui Gu Zi text cover the relationship between lobbying techniques and the Yin-Yang Theory, techniques of political evaluation of the state, evaluation of political relationships between state leaders and ministers, psychological profiling of lobbying targets and rhetorical devices.

There have been translations of “Gui Gu Zi” into modern Chinese, German and English. Almost all modern annotated texts and western translations rely heavily on the explanations of the texts attributed to the Eastern Jin scholar Tao Hongjing (陶弘景).

More info 

Mien Shiang
Wu Xing the five elements
Five Elements (Japanese Philosophy)
Physiognomy (face reading)
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)

Five Element Personality Questionairy >>
Take the Personality Test based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality >>

Research links
Guiguzi: a textual study and translation – Digital library Washington University Researchworks
鬼谷子 by 4th cent. B.C. Guiguzi – Gutenberg
Gui Gu Zi – Chinese Text Project
Zhai Jie hua shuo “Guiguzi”  翟杰话说《鬼谷子》 – Stanford University search works


Learn Face Reading
Learn face reading (Physiognomy or personology)
Open gallery of emotions. – Physiognomy and IChing
How to read character : a new illustrated hand-book of phrenology and physiognomy, for students and examiners : with a descriptive chart

“The Mien Shiang Institute: Chinese/Taoist Face Reading”.

7 thoughts on “Mien Shiang: Face Reading – How it Works

  1. Pingback: Mien Shiang: Face Reading – How it Works – Book of Research – suflet al diminetii

  2. Reblogged this on Luluscope | silent guides to the psyche. and commented:
    In our quest to self-realisation or self-preservation, we strengthen our intuition by learning to read the signs. Knowing what to look for.

    The actualisation of the physical self, the mask / persona we wear daily, the identity are 1st house affairs – and I believe in the wisdom of the recorded ancient civilisations, such as this Chinese one about facial features.


  3. Pingback: Mien Shiang: Face Reading – How it Works – Mediarteducation

  4. Pingback: Mien Shiang: Face Reading – How it Works | Cerebral Fitness

  5. Pingback: Mien Shiang - Chinese Face Reading : Chinese Medicine Living

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