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Fortune Telling Machines

Yithian

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East of Suez
maxresdefault.jpg

This can serve as the inaugural post on a thread that I was surprised to find did not already exist.

I've been too busy to post this for a couple of weeks, but I recently visited Sokcho on the west coast of Korea for the second time and found something novel:

갯배 명당 / "(The) Cable Ferry Famous Place"

This miniature passenger ferry covers a span of probably less that fifty metres for the princely sum of ₩500 (~31p / 35¢)

DSC00710.jpg

Photo Source:
https://www.creatrip.com/en/spot/5684

For our Fortean purposes, the dock is also home to a very modern and somewhat interesting fortune telling machine:

KakaoTalk_Photo_2022-10-23-22-49-01 001.jpeg


The long wooden cabinet houses:
  • An identical change machine at either end (₩1,000 notes can be exchanged for two ₩500 coins).
  • Fifteen separate fortune dispensers, the first twelve from the left being labelled with a Chinese character and an illustration of its corresponding zodiac sign.
  • Three additional (and identical) dispensers labelled 'Love & Wealth'.
(To jog your memory)

chinese-zodiac-calendar-1024x1004.png

Source:
https://www.zodiacsigns101.com/chinesezodiaccompatibility/

Once you have chosen either the machine that matches your zodiacal sign or 'love & wealth' and have inserted one coin and turned the handle, a plastic ball is dispensed that contains your fortune. I went for my sign. These plastic 'eggs' are easily opened--just as one opens a Kinder egg--but for ritual's sake you can take it to the 'stump and mallet' provided and attempt to 'break it open' with a blow. This, more often or not, sends your fortune flying, but some fellow tourists were having fun goofing around for the camera with theatrical poses. Presumably linked thematically to this mallet stage, there is a 'whack-a-mole' style game a few metres away, but it doesn't form part of the fortune telling process, alas. There is also a 'lucky throw' receptacle to dispose of the empty eggs (see video below).

KakaoTalk_Photo_2022-10-23-22-49-10.jpeg

This is what the egg contains:

KakaoTalk_Photo_2022-10-23-22-49-01 002.jpeg

My wife and I are the same 'sign' but received very different fortunes (lest the suspicious among you think they're all identical).

Mine looks like this once untied:

KakaoTalk_Photo_2022-10-23-22-49-02 003.jpeg

Here's a very rough translation:

Getbal Famous Place

Today is the day you have a chance to see a nobleman. Today you will be able to meet people and spread pleasure among them while you wander here and there.
You will have good relationships and productive interactions with people because you like to form bonds widely and pursue varied relationships. When you see these people, you will receive praise and share your good mood with them, and for that you will get good news and also encounter sources of pride. When you come to make an important decision, you should seek advice from a reliable person rather than decide on your own. Through doing so, you will gain great wisdom.


The second section gives a very specific 'lucky place' somewhere on Seoraksan (the tallest mountain on the South Korean mainland) that I may wish to visit; it also adds, in an oddly practical tone, that it might be better to take the cable car. I asked my wife whether this was a metaphor (surely?), but she said that it was literal, which seems incongruous in the context.

Being away from the big city and the job it contains, I can report only that while I did not knowingly meet a nobleman, I was on rather good form and managed to elicit a few smiles from the locals.

Finally, I was given three lucky numbers to use in any or all situations where numerical choice is required:

9 / 28 / 40

A Korean couple have posted a video of their visit to this site--it's a kind of 'dating spot':


 

Yithian

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East of Suez
Alas, although this machine costs but ₩1,000 and supplies a printout, I had no time to use it (being outside a highway service station at -4⁰C with a hungry child).

Notes: the literal translation for the 'lines' on your palm seems to be 'cracks' in Korean.

The main invitation translates as 'Nostradamus Will Evaluate The Cracks of Your Hand!'

The warning 'Use after sanitising hands' is a covid-era addition.

I can see no reason beyond aesthetics why Egyptian hieroglyphs feature here.

SmartSelect_20230123_212612_Gallery.jpgSmartSelect_20230123_212626_Gallery.jpg
 

CharmerKamelion

Who knows where it will end?
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Messages
948
Location
Lightyears from Zanzibar
Just to be 귀엽다 (cute), in the Japanese 'kawaii' sense.
Of course. Anything is cuter with a cat on it. Unless it's a mouse.

Interesting stuff, Yithian. Nice pics, too. I'm an Ox (born in a year so long ago it doesn't show on the wheel you posted - I'm sure you can 'do the math').

The 'fortune' seems to be worded in the same sort of generalised language you tend to see in Western 'horoscopes' in newspapers and magazines. What that means, I'm not sure, but inclines me to take them with a large pinch of salt. I better sign off now. Apparently today is the day Cancer will be lucky in love - and I haven't even had my 'back, sack & crack' done yet!

Let us know if you bump into that nobleman!
 

FunkyTT

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Messages
296
Location
Huddersfield
I wish we had fun things like this as standard over here ! Really cool . Im year of the snake ,77 .
 
Last edited:

charliebrown

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
2,944
Location
Earth
As this is the Chinese year of the Rabbit, everyone should have good luck.

My only experience with a fortune telling machine was when I first marred.

The machine was strangely place in a hallway to the bathrooms in a retail store.

My wife got a happy fortune, but I got a crap fortune saying I would always have health concerns.

Sadly turning into a diabetic and blood platelet problems, my fortune came true.

I don’t think I would try another machine if I see one because of my outcome.

Since that time, I have never seen another fortune telling machine anywhere.
 

Earthly oddity

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Joined
Dec 19, 2021
Messages
357
A while ago I picked up these miniature novelty fortune tellers. You rub the crystal balls base and it lights up giving you an answer to your question. And Zoltar, well, he's Zoltar and sees all.

View attachment 62733
I would have loved this when I was a child. I was obsessed with fortune telling.

I had a Madame Rosa Fortune telling toy crystal ball, and a pendulum toy you asked questions (Answers were Yes, No, or Maybe)....

I love this set. How does it work? I mean where is the answer? Inside the ball?
 

Lord Lucan

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Joined
Feb 17, 2017
Messages
4,290
I would have loved this when I was a child. I was obsessed with fortune telling.

I had a Madame Rosa Fortune telling toy crystal ball, and a pendulum toy you asked questions (Answers were Yes, No, or Maybe)....

I love this set. How does it work? I mean where is the answer? Inside the ball?

You ask the crystal ball your question, touch it's base and it lights up and speaks one of 15 recorded messages at random, somewhat akin to the Magic 8 Ball toy. The small booklet gives a very brief account of crystal ball history and use.

The mini Zoltar is just that, a mini replica of a Zoltar fortune telling machine found in amusement arcades and stores. You can even buy the full sized machines direct from the company that's been making them for decades:

https://zoltar.org/


It has replica fortune tickets that you'd get from the real machine and when you press the button, his crystal ball lights up and he dispenses some words of wisdom in his instantly recognisable voice.

Here are both items on Amazon (U.S site):

Zoltar Speaks - Mini Zoltar

Magic Crystal Ball - See The Future
 

AmStramGram

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Messages
151
The Corean machine described by Yithian seems related to the “Kaucim / chien tung” divination system which is prevalent all over Eastern Asia (I suspect it originated in China).

It consists in randomly selecting a piece of paper or a wooden stick into a larger lot. Each item is related to an evocative poem or saying, commented along various themes: health, luck, travel, business, love / marriage, children, studies. Usually, each lot also bears a general appreciation such as “Fortunate” or “unfortunate”.

The applicant goes to a shrine, asks for the local god’s guidance before selecting his lot and then goes on reading the result of his draw. In Japan, if my memory is correct, you sometimes have to clap your hands before consulting the oracle as a way to alert the god of your intention to ask him a question. In China, you generally burn incense.

The confucean origins of the system are usually very obvious in the content of the predictions. There is a general trend towards promoting prudence and patience.

When good fortune is predicted, it is often linked to the intervention of a hierarchical figure, the “gui ren” (precious person), usually translated into English as a “Noble”. This probably refers to the civil officials of the former Chinese empire, who represented perhaps less than 2% of the population but concentrated power and fame. In Japan, the concept probably extended to the daimyo(s). Although, these nobles were more akin to the western hereditary nobility, in the Tokugawa era, these were brought into submission by the shogun by various methods, including the promotion of confucean values.

When bad luck is announced, it is usually recommended to do good deeds or act benevolently in order to "change misfortune into fortune". There are many Chinese tales from the 17th/18th century illustrating this point.

Depending on the place, the invoked god is either :

- A Shinto god (in Japan)
- A Chinese god, an "immortal / fairy" (xian) who achieved eternal life through alchemy or meditation,
- A Buddhist boddhisattva.

In some rarer occurrences, you also can ask questions to various classes of ungodly spirits, the most common one being the "fox spirit" (a king of poltergeist with vulpine characteristics).

This kind of oracle is readily "automatized". So you can find plenty of exemples on the web. Here are a few typical references :

A popular one focused on asking your questions to the Guanyin Bodhisattva (originally called Avalokistesvara in sanscrit) :
https://accesschinese.com/divination/guanyin/guanyin-fortune-telling.php

Another one focused on Wong Tai Sin, a Hong Kong god : originally a taoist immortal from Fujian province called "Great Immortal Huang" (Huang Daxian) who became popular in HK, probably brought in by the immigration : http://www.pswu.com/wongtaisin/

Both collections consists of 100 poems, and both refer to some historical events up to the Song dynasty. So they were evidently created much later (after the 13th century). The Wong Tai Sin one is a good exemple of the structure of these divination sets : it starts with the poem's title (giving a general idea of the situation in allusive terms all locals would understand because to some well kown "pop culture" story). A four line poem follows. For instance :

"Shun the Great farmed in Mount Li
Always observed his filial duties though his parents were stubborn and obstinate

Even the wild elephants became tame and plowed his fields
Good against evil, kindness will always rewarded
"

Then there is a small explanation of the historical reference, just in case you don't get who's the hell is Shun the great. The general "mood" of the prediction is in bold characters. Here : 求得此簽者。為善吉。作惡凶。就此簽而論。亦當作為吉

"He who gets this lot should know that if he does good, he'll be fortunate. If he commits wrongs, it will be inauspicious. One shall be rewarded according to his behaviour" (amateur translation - sorry for any mistranscription)

And then (lower part of the page), you get to the table were for each domain, you can get a specific prediction : for instance :

"Money luck : Accumulating good deeds will bring fortune. Monetary wealth will come spontaneously".

Very Chinese !
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
Staff member
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
34,707
Location
East of Suez
The Corean machine described by Yithian seems related to the “Kaucim / chien tung” divination system which is prevalent all over Eastern Asia (I suspect it originated in China).

It consists in randomly selecting a piece of paper or a wooden stick into a larger lot. Each item is related to an evocative poem or saying, commented along various themes: health, luck, travel, business, love / marriage, children, studies. Usually, each lot also bears a general appreciation such as “Fortunate” or “unfortunate”.

The applicant goes to a shrine, asks for the local god’s guidance before selecting his lot and then goes on reading the result of his draw. In Japan, if my memory is correct, you sometimes have to clap your hands before consulting the oracle as a way to alert the god of your intention to ask him a question. In China, you generally burn incense.

The confucean origins of the system are usually very obvious in the content of the predictions. There is a general trend towards promoting prudence and patience.

When good fortune is predicted, it is often linked to the intervention of a hierarchical figure, the “gui ren” (precious person), usually translated into English as a “Noble”. This probably refers to the civil officials of the former Chinese empire, who represented perhaps less than 2% of the population but concentrated power and fame. In Japan, the concept probably extended to the daimyo(s). Although, these nobles were more akin to the western hereditary nobility, in the Tokugawa era, these were brought into submission by the shogun by various methods, including the promotion of confucean values.

When bad luck is announced, it is usually recommended to do good deeds or act benevolently in order to "change misfortune into fortune". There are many Chinese tales from the 17th/18th century illustrating this point.

Depending on the place, the invoked god is either :

- A Shinto god (in Japan)
- A Chinese god, an "immortal / fairy" (xian) who achieved eternal life through alchemy or meditation,
- A Buddhist boddhisattva.

In some rarer occurrences, you also can ask questions to various classes of ungodly spirits, the most common one being the "fox spirit" (a king of poltergeist with vulpine characteristics).

This kind of oracle is readily "automatized". So you can find plenty of exemples on the web. Here are a few typical references :

A popular one focused on asking your questions to the Guanyin Bodhisattva (originally called Avalokistesvara in sanscrit) :
https://accesschinese.com/divination/guanyin/guanyin-fortune-telling.php

Another one focused on Wong Tai Sin, a Hong Kong god : originally a taoist immortal from Fujian province called "Great Immortal Huang" (Huang Daxian) who became popular in HK, probably brought in by the immigration : http://www.pswu.com/wongtaisin/

Both collections consists of 100 poems, and both refer to some historical events up to the Song dynasty. So they were evidently created much later (after the 13th century). The Wong Tai Sin one is a good exemple of the structure of these divination sets : it starts with the poem's title (giving a general idea of the situation in allusive terms all locals would understand because to some well kown "pop culture" story). A four line poem follows. For instance :

"Shun the Great farmed in Mount Li
Always observed his filial duties though his parents were stubborn and obstinate

Even the wild elephants became tame and plowed his fields
Good against evil, kindness will always rewarded
"

Then there is a small explanation of the historical reference, just in case you don't get who's the hell is Shun the great. The general "mood" of the prediction is in bold characters. Here : 求得此簽者。為善吉。作惡凶。就此簽而論。亦當作為吉

"He who gets this lot should know that if he does good, he'll be fortunate. If he commits wrongs, it will be inauspicious. One shall be rewarded according to his behaviour" (amateur translation - sorry for any mistranscription)

And then (lower part of the page), you get to the table were for each domain, you can get a specific prediction : for instance :

"Money luck : Accumulating good deeds will bring fortune. Monetary wealth will come spontaneously".

Very Chinese !

A brilliant post that decodes the seemingly random. I don't think one in ten thousand users of that machine could have explained any of the origins of the divination process or the symbolism it reflects.

Why things are how they are and not different is almost invariably fascinating.
 
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