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Art of Feng Shui and its Relationship With Modern Interior Design

Hourakhsh Ahmadnia, Majid Gholizadeh, Mahdi Bavafa, Rokhsaneh Rahbarianyazd

Appropriate design for inside of building to create calm and quiet place for human being was
main challenge to all the history of art and architecture .Chinese system for deciding a right
position for a building in order to make people feel comfortable and happy who called "Feng
Shui", is most popular for people in nowadays society. But what is the fact behind of this kind
of work to interior design? Way this kind of art and design are popular in nowadays society?
Do we need Feng Shui as a main critical factor for interior design?
In this paper after describe art of Feng Shui as an optional way to interior design we will try
to answer the problem that mentioned and we will try find and show approaches to
contemporary interior design.
key words: Feng Shui, modern interior design, approaches, challenge.

Feng Shui, which has been practicing for thousands of years in Asian countries, is an ancient
Oriental wisdom that relates built environment to the Nature. The concepts of Feng Shui are to
guide people to interpret human behavior to settle their own living space in a more harmonious
place. The geometrical relationship between critical areas within a flat, say toilets, kitchens,
and bedrooms has been considered as a very important element in the creation of good Feng
Shui. The benefit of maintaining a good Feng Shui indoors is to achieve the healthy and comfort
environment (“Chi”field), so that we can evaluate the effects in various Feng-Shui senses by
using the IAQ indicators. The places of bedroom and kitchen are most discussed ardently, the
bathroom and toilet secondly and the living room and entrance thirdly, from literature review.
The majority of Feng-Shui sayings were to ask people what circumstances were not allowed,
instead of asking people how to do. Those have been named Feng-Shui limitations in this study.
In modern times Feng Shui also deals with the surroundings of a building [including streets and
other buildings], its shape and landscaping, as well as with the colors and materials of the
outside and inside of a space. Feng Shui rules can help find a site where family life is more likely
to be harmonious, or a locale where a business is more likely to succeed.
While Architecture is based mainly on rules of functionality and Interior Design concentrates on
beauty, Feng Shui adds the dimension of feelings. How people react emotionally to a place is as
important as proper architectural or interior design. It is essential that people feel comfortable
and safe in their home or workplace in order to create environments where we can be happier,
healthier, more prosperous and free.
For example, furniture arrangement in Feng Shui always tries to give desk chairs and beds what
is called "the power position," allowing a person to see the door, while not being directly in the
path of the door. This gives the person command of the room, as a result of this, he or she will
feel more in control, and this will often lead to greater concentration and productivity in the
one case, and greater relaxation and better rest in the other.

2.Definition of Feng Shui

"Feng Shui Literally translated as "wind and water," it is the Chinese art of placement, of
balancing and enhancing the environment" (Rossbach, 1987, p. xxiii). Rossbach says in her first
book that "these forces are believed to be responsible for determining health, prosperity, and
good luck" (1983, p. 1).
Evelyn Lip (1989) quotes a definition from The Encyclopedia Sinica: Feng Shui--wind and water,
the outward and visible signs of celestial yang andyin; the art of adapting the residence of the
living and the dead so as to harmonize with the cosmic breath.' Lai Chuen Yan tells us that feng
shui is a mystical combination of Chinese philosophical, religious, astrological, cosmological,
mathematical and geographical concepts. It is a unique dogmatic faith or superstition of the
Chinese mind. (P. 5) Feng shui is strongly allied with the basic concepts of yin and yang
("negative and positive principles of universal life"(Lin, 1989, p 13)) the five elements
(wood,fire, earth, metal, and water); the five directions (east, south, center, west, andnorth);
the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) and five colours(green, red, yellow,
white, and black) (Lin). "The luopan is the geomancer's instrument for the divination of
orientations of buildings or tombstones. There areseveral types of luopans. . . .They serve to
represent the universe by means of which forces of heaven and earth can be harmonized"(p.
30). Lin explains how the luopan is used, and then gives the "Standard Rules-of-Thumb of
Geomancy"(P. 44).
Feng Shui is at least 5,000 years old. The Feng Shui masters of Ancient China had the
responsibility of finding sites where palaces, farms, and villages could be built with a certain
guarantee that people could not only survive, but prosper there. They also were to find burial
sites where the memory of ancestors could be honored for generations. At a time when there
were no weather reports and history had just started to be recorded, Feng Shui practitioners
had to rely on their powers of observation of the natural world. They would take note of things
• the abundance and availability of drinking water
• the quality and fertility of the soil
• the shapes of mountains, hills, rivers, lakes and valleys
• the condition of vegetable and animal life
• the presence of enough fish and game
• the strength and direction of the winds
• sun exposure

2.1 Feng Shui Means More Than Style:

A Feng Shui interior design goes much deeper than just choosing the right style of furnishings
and color schemes; it’s meant to bring balance, clarity, and good fortune to those who enter
and reside in the space. For instance, those who seek out Feng Shui would run in the opposite
direction from those who would prefer, (as an example), an English Country Interior Design,
which is based on the physical aspects of the decor and furnishings, rather than on the
metaphysical aspects of balance and energy that are so profound in Feng Shui. In other words;
Feng Shui takes the focus off of what the furnishings look like, and place it on where and how
the furnishings are arranged. It is the belief that the position of your furnishings, art work and
other accessories, are relevant to the harmony of that space and will increase (or decrease) the
positive energy in that area.
3.Modern feng shui interpretations and uses:
Throughout the modern period, practically all writers on feng shui, Chinese and foreign alike,
foresaw its rapid demise. The stance of these writers varied, depending on their belief in
modern education, Christian enlightenment, Communism or just the power of progress, but
their predictions were very similar. A few examples may suffice. The missionary Joseph Edkins
believed in the power of the light itself when he wrote: ‘the shining of true science may pale its
ineffectual fire and cause it to disappear as a thing of darkness without special effort to bring
about its extinction’ (Edkins 1872.320). The SinologistHerbert Giles described a system that, ‘in
the last years [has] been shaken to its centre, and is now destined very shortly to collapse’
(Giles 1974.71). E. J. Eitel in his famous treatise on feng shui predicted: ‘based as it is on human
speculation and superstition and not on careful study of nature, it is marked for decay and
dissolution’ (Eitel 1984.69). The sinologist J. J. M. de Groot mocked it as ‘a mere web of
speculative dreams and idle abstractions, the product of a credulous faith in absurd vagaries’
(de Groot 1899.977), bound for destruction along with the ‘petrified’ culture that produced it.
Although the Korean folkloristHong-key Yoon wrote much later and from an entirely different
perspective, his forecast was little brighter: ‘This naive but stable and harmonious culture–
nature relationship has been ignored and overcome by so-called “modern civilization” ’ (Yoon
1976). Chinese modernizers of every persuasion were all hostile to the popular traditions like
feng shui, and fought them vigorously. For the founder of the new Republic in1931 Sun Yat-sen,
feng shui stood for fear and ignorance, something that needed to be eradicated as a condition
for progress for the nation (D’elia 1969). Mao Zedong not only believed in the power of
communist modernity but was prepared to take matters into his own hands and aggressively
stamp it out along with other aspects of ‘feudal superstition’, forming vicious policies to that
end during the 1950s and 1960s. Most onlookers to the communist revolution tended to agree
to the general aim; the new generation of Chinese sociologists described the rapid
transformation of the lives and minds of rural people. The Chinese anthropologist Wing-tsit
Chan simply noted that feng shui ‘is fast becoming a thing of the past’ (Chan [1953] 1978: 145).
Chinese writers of the 1960s to 1980s echoed those of earlier decades, though wrapped in
Maoist propaganda.
Just half a century ago, no one would have envisioned a place for feng shui in modern western
societies. The tradition of feng shui, among those relatively few who knew of its existence, was
perceived as a most peculiar aspect of Chinese culture, brought down through China’s long
history because of inherent conservatism and general stagnation. It was seen as superstitious
and obsolete, bound for destruction in the quest for modernity. Western observers, whether of
missionary, social science or political background, would at least share this faith in progress.
Among the Chinese themselves, both revolutionaries and liberals would agree to this. Few saw
any purpose of sorting out useful and less useful aspects of traditional cosmology. At this time,
ideologies were moving across continents at a rapid pace. The main currents of thought in the
Chinese modernization process – Christianity, Marxism and liberalism – were all western
constructs. It is of great importance, however, that such currents inevitably will be adapted to
the local culture in the process of their transfer. Christianity was most often mixed with Chinese
ancestor worship, and Marxism was adapted in the form of Maoism, a new radical form with a
personality cult around Mao himself. Ideologies develop new hybrids when moved across
cultures, often to the point of becoming unrecognizable.
In the transfer of ideas between cultures, it is probably less the power of the ideas themselves
than the receptivity of the receiving culture that counts. For instance, Christian missions in
China during the nineteenth century had very modest success despite its powerful backing,
while today, with much less missionary activity, Christianity has become a massive force in
Chinese spiritual life. My point in stating these facts should be obvious. We are in the midst of a
globalization process of colossal dimensions, economically, socially and politically. Yet it would
be naive to think that globalization merely gives rise to sameness. Globalization will facilitate
exchange, but at the same time gives rise to counter-currents: it also creates difference and
new cultural forms. This is where the interest in Chinese feng shui comes in. First of all, Chinese
traditional cosmology and divination has been known in the West for several centuries; yet it
has only taken off as a popular pursuit after deep and profound changes have occurred within
western culture and religion. Second, the feng shui that is seen to rise in western societies is
radically different from the original Chinese forms, however varied they may be. Thus, over
time, we have both created a spiritual void and have begun installing new spiritual alternatives
that fit in with the conditions of our time.
4.feng shui for building
A house is a living symbol; it is the focus of the aspirations – social and spiritual –of the people
who made it. It shelters the family, and it is here in the courts of prescribed portions, shaded by
walls of prescribed heights, in its chambers for social intercourse, in its chambers for religious
meditation and ceremony, and in its private chambers that occurs the slow elaboration of
thought and ritual. Such begins Ronald Knapp’s account of China’s ‘living houses’ (Knapp 1999.
6), and nothing could be a better introduction to the use of feng shui cosmology in Chinese
family houses. In Chinese rural villages, houses were mostly simple constructions, being built,
demolished and rebuilt at a fairly rapid pace. It was customary for each generation to build for
itself in a highly dynamic relationship between the size of the family and its status, land tenure
and wealth. In a situation of extremely limited land and resources, as well as intense
competition, only those families with economic success had the means to grow bigger. Thus,
bigger families wanted bigger houses, while at the same time a large family tended to indicate
wealth. In the rural setting, building houses was narrowly connected with building wealth and
reputations. As noted by Maurice Freedman in his celebrated essay on Chinese geomancy
(Freedman 1969), building higher or bigger has always been regarded as a challenge to the rest
of the community; or, as put by an elderly feng shui man with regard to pre-Liberation society:
‘If you built bigger you should have the means to defend your wealth’ (Bruun 2003). Having a
specialist to ‘see feng shui’ (kan feng shui) on the building site is an essential aspect of building
activity in rural China today as much as in the preceding several centuries . Family houses
should fit harmoniously into the local patterns of qi resonance, and should be placed in an
auspicious position so as to capture the most of the living-giving flows of qi. The concept of qi in
rural feng shui tends to be as many-sided as in the philosophical tradition, with a range of
possible subdivisions into specific forms of qi according to the specialization of the individual
feng shui master as well as with endless manifestations in objects, relations and occurrences. It
is commonly asserted that the benign flow of qi is a general condition for success in life,
expressed, for instance, by the four individual concerns of feng shui work: prosperity (cai),
happiness (fu), long life (shou) and procreation (zi). Conversely, a malignant flow of qi will ruin
any human Endeavour and cause boundless suffering. As shown below, very different local
traditions exist to interpret the flow of qi around homes, to some extent referring to the
different schools of Feng shui as cultural globalization?
Feng shui is seen to work around homes in various ways. First, the specific natural environment
gives shape to flows of qi, for which reason all its features must be identified, including
compass directions, topography, symbolic representation of the landscape, flows of water and
vegetation. Second, human constructions impinge on each other in such a way that one
building may block or pervert the flow of qi to another, making specific evaluations necessary.
Third, the possible impact of a range of natural and man-made objects around the home must
be evaluated, including trees, rocks, monuments, ponds, dams, pagodas and shrines. Fourth,
but of great importance, the astrological data of the household leader must be considered, as
well as symbolic interaction between, for instance, his animal sign or birth date and the
surroundings. Last of all, in connection with building activity, a number of rituals and local
customs must be respected, most commonly including marking up the intended building site for
local inspection, the killing of a cock and the sprinkling of its blood on the site, setting off fire-
crackers, hanging up strips of colored paper or posters, inviting the feng shui specialist and
offering a feast for all involved. Several such rituals have a common aim to expel evil and
preserve good: in ancient lore, the blood of a cock is supposed to scare off demons, while
firecrackers, at least since the Qing dynasty, have been used to ‘keep away evil spirits, exorcise
ghosts, suppress demons and seek happiness’.
5.Feng shui today
Today, feng shui is practiced not only by the Chinese, but also by Westerners. However, with
the passage of time and feng shui's popularization in the West, much of the theory behind it
has been lost in translation, not paid proper attention to, frowned upon, or scorned.
Robert T. Carroll sums up what feng shui has become in some cases:
"... feng shui has become an aspect of interior decorating in the Western world and alleged
masters of feng shui now hire themselves out for hefty sums to tell people such as Donald
Trump which way his doors and other things should hang. Feng shui has also become another
New Age "energy" scam with arrays of metaphysical products ... offered for sale to help you
improve your health, maximize your potential, and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune
cookie philosophy."
Others have noted how, when feng shui is not applied properly, or rather, without common
sense, it can even harm the environment, such as was the case of people planting "lucky
bamboo" in ecosystems that could not handle them.
Still others are simply skeptical of Feng Shui. Evidence for its effectiveness is based on
anecdote, and there is a lack of a plausible method of action; this leads to conflicting advice
from different practitioners of feng shui. Feng shui practitioners use this as evidence of
variations or different schools; critical analysts have described it thus: "Feng shui has always
been based upon mere guesswork."
Nevertheless, even modern feng shui is not always looked at as a superstitious scam. Many
people believe it is important and very helpful in living a prosperous and healthy life either
avoiding or blocking negative energies that might otherwise have bad effects. Many of the
higher-level forms of feng shui are not so easily practiced without either connections, or a
certain amount of wealth because the hiring of an expert, the great altering of architecture or
design, and the moving from place to place that is sometimes necessary requires a lot of
money. Because of this, some people of the lower classes lose faith in feng shui, saying that it is
only a game for the wealthy. Others, however, practice less expensive forms of Feng Shui,
including hanging special (but cheap) mirrors, forks, or woks in doorways to deflect negative
6.Historical criticism
Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), one of the founding fathers of Jesuit China missions, may have been
the first European to write about feng shui practices. His account in De Christiana expedition
apud Sinas... tells about feng shui masters (geologi, in Latin) studying prospective construction
sites or grave sites "with reference to the head and the tail and the feet of the particular
dragons which are supposed to dwell beneath that spot". As a Catholic missionary, Ricci
strongly criticized the "recondite science" of geomancy along with astrology as yet another
superstition absurdissima of the heathens: "What could be more absurd than their imagining
that the safety of a family, honors, and their entire existence must depend upon such trifles as
a door being opened from one side or another, as rain falling into a courtyard from the right or
from the left, a window opened here or there, or one roof being higher than another?"
Victorian-era commentators on feng shui were generally ethnocentric, and as such skeptical
and derogatory of what they knew of feng shui.
In 1896 at a meeting of the Educational Association of China, Rev. P.W. Pitcher railed at the
"rottenness of the whole scheme of Chinese architecture," and urged fellow missionaries "to
erect unabashedly Western edifices of several stories and with towering spires in order to
destroy nonsense about fung-shuy."
It is entirely inconsistent with Christianity to believe that harmony and balance result from the
manipulation and channeling of nonphysical forces or energies, or that such can be done by
means of the proper placement of physical objects. Such techniques, in fact, belong to the
world of sorcery.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, feng shui has been officially
deemed as a "feudalistic superstitious practice" and a "social evil" according to the state's
ideology, and discouraged and even banned outright at times.
Persecution was the most severe during the Cultural Revolution, when feng shui was classified
as a custom under the so-called Four Olds to be wiped out. Feng shui practitioners were beaten
and abused by Red Guards and their works burned. After the death of Mao Zedong and the end
of the Cultural Revolution, the official attitude became more tolerant but restrictions on feng
shui practice are still in place in today's China. It is illegal in the PRC today to register feng shui
consultation as a business and similarly advertising feng shui practice is banned, and there have
been frequent crackdowns on feng shui practitioners on the grounds of "promoting feudalistic
superstitions" such as one in Qingdao in early 2006 when the city's business and industrial
administration office shut down an art gallery converted into a feng shui practice. Some
communist officials who had consulted feng shui were sacked and were to be expelled from the
Communist Party.
6.Ways to Achieve the Basics of Feng Shui
1. As stated earlier, the positing of your furnishings is extremely important as this will
allow the free flow of energy to be present at all times. Remove all objects that seem
to add clutter, especially around your entrance ways. Having multiple uncluttered
pathways within your living space will increase the flow of energy and allow balance
and harmony to take hold.
2. Feng Shui relies on the belief that positive energy is increased when living things are
present. This can be achieved by incorporating plants, potted flowers and bonsai trees.
Don’t forget about your pets and fish, as well.
3. Lighting and music are also major factors in Fung Shui as they add to the overall
ambiance which leads to a source of calmness, relaxation and clarity. Try
experimenting with colored bulbs to find your preferred level of comfort and serenity.
4. If there was one word to describe Feng Shui it would be “natural”. This holds true when
selecting your furnishings. Choose items that are created from wood, stone or metal.
Incorporating water elements into the overall design will also increase the natural
concept in your home. Fish aquariums would accomplish that nicely.
5. Employ the Ba-gua method when designing. Ba-gua is an energy map which determines
the various regions of the house. Using this method will help you determine the best
layout for all elements in your home. It concentrates on using methods such as
Astrology to determine the best approach to achieving true Feng Shui.
6.1 The 25 Principles of Feng Sui of Bau-biologie :
1. Consider geobiology in the process of selecting building sites.
2. Locate habitations at a distance from centers of industry and main traffic routes.
3. Have dwellings well separated from one another in spaciously planned developments amid
green areas.
4. Plan homes and developments individually, taking into consideration the human aspects and
the needs of family life.
5. Use building materials of natural origin.
6. Use wall, floor and ceiling materials that allow air diffusion.
7. Allow for natural regulation of indoor air humidity by the use of hygroscopic building
8. Interior surface materials should allow air filtration and neutralization of air pollutants (using
materials capable of sorption)
9. Consider the balance between indoors heat storage and thermal insulation.
10. Consider the balance between surface temperatures and air temperatures.
11. Use thermal radiation in heating, employing solar energy as much as possible.
12. Promote low humidity and rapid desiccationin new buildings.
13. Ensure that buildings should be neutral in odor or smell pleasant. Toxic fumes should be
14. Use light, illumination and color in accordance with nature.
15. Provide adequate protection from noise and infra sound vibrations* or sound conducted
through solids.
16. Use building materials which emit little or no radioactivity.
17. Preserve natural electric field conditions and physiologically advantageous
18. Refrain from altering the natural magnetic fields.
19. Minimize technical electromagnetic fields.
20. Restrict alteration of important cosmic and terrestrial radiation.
21. Employ physiologically designed furniture and spaces. Apply ergonomics*.
22. Design shapes and proportions in harmonic order.
23. Neither construction nor the production of building materials should contribute
to environmental problems and high energy costs.
24. Building and production methods should not contribute to the overexploitation of limited
raw materials.
25. Building activities and production of materials should not promote social damage through
harmful side-effects.
Everyone can strive to apply these guide lines when erecting a new building or when
remodeling an old one or in interior design.
6.2.The five elements of feng shui namely water, earth, wood, fire and metal are represented
by colors
6.2.1Fire Element
• Red indicates wealth and luxury. It should be used minimally as accents like throw pillows and
modern sculpture but not as major furniture upholstery or wall paint because it has an
overpowering quality.
• Orange color induces active and friendly vibes. This is perfect for the living room for
entertaining guests and spending time with loved ones. However, just like red, avoid using this
as a major color as it may overwhelm the interior.
6.2.2Metal Element
• White is the color of purity and clarity. This is a safe color that can be used anywhere
especially as a background for stronger colors such as red and orange.
• Gray exudes a sophistication that only a metal element can create. This can also be used
as a design accent in living rooms and bedrooms as long as it doesn’t combine with wood
element colors because it ruins them.
6.2.3Earth Element
• Beige depicts humility and stability. As such, this color can be mixed with any color in
the interior. It will neutralize the striking colors and create warmth.
• Yellow improves the self-esteem and well-being of an individual. It’s a radiant color that
uplifts your mood. This color will be a welcome addition to the kids’ room and living area.
6.2.4 Wood Element
• Brown brings with it a nourishing energy. It’s appropriate for the kitchen or as a supporting
color for the living room and bedroom.
• Green signifies a healing energy. It is good to display it with actual plants in the interior.
Different hues of green calm the eyes and provide a tranquil and healthy atmosphere.
6.2.5Water Element
• Blue has a calming and soothing effect. The right location for this color would be in the
bedroom especially the lighter shades of it. They would also look great in the living room.
• Black is the color for money and power. Black can be evenly distributed in the house and
is an excellent color for office and business establishments. This color should be used
sporadically because of its overwhelming effect on the psyche.
7.Practical Tips
To separate the myths from the facts, you must use not only your instincts but also logical
awareness. If you read about certain points that define this as good luck and that as bad luck,
consider the background behind the idea, you can pretty much determine what idea is within
reason and what is not. Below are some useful feng shui tips that are credible and logically
• The doors and entrances in your home should be clear and unobstructed to let good chi in
and out of the house. Psychologically, an unhindered path is inviting and allows your mind to
think clearly and positively.
• Avoid dark spaces and corridors as they block the circulation of good chi in your home.
Nobody wants to be trapped in a dark room as it clogs the mind and dampens one’s energy. Do
provide sufficient lighting in these areas so it will be easier to navigate and boost your spirit.
• Place a water feature inside your home as good chi is attracted to water. You can have an
aquarium or a fountain built, perhaps a pocket garden to create a refreshing ambiance in your
home. It is always relaxing to see and hear the cool and crystalline water splashing nearby.
• Situate your kitchen at the back of your house and not below the bathroom or at the center
of your home. This has practical reasons because in case of fire, the exit will be accessible. Due
to sanitary reasons, it’s not advisable for the pipes of the bathroom to be near or to go directly
to the kitchen.
• Do not build your stairs facing the main door. It will give direct access to the negative chi to go
up to the next floor. Not to mention burglars and suspicious individuals. If you can have a foyer
first that blocks the staircase then that would be better.
• Keep your windows and curtains open in the day time to allow good chi to come in. This
sounds like a positive advice. It is nice to have natural light come inside your home.
• Avoid using furniture pieces with sharp and pointed edges as it obstructs the continuous flow
of energy in the house. It also helps make the room appear spacious and prevents people from
bumping into the edges.

modern society because of innate need subjective organizer to organize and arrange lacking of
modern projects of identity to interior design . Modern technology needed this kind of
organizer to create a suitable and comfortable interior design whit attention of human
aesthetic needs.

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Lin, J. (1995). Earth design: the added dimension. Florida: Earth Design, Incorporated
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Eitel, Ernest. J .1984 Feng-shui, or, The Rudiments of Natural Science in China. Singapore:
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Edkins, Joseph 1872 ‘Feng Shui: The Wind and Water Superstition of the Chinese’ (part 1),
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de Groot, J. J. M.1899, The Religious System of China,  vols. Leiden: E. J.
Hu, Chang-tu 1960. China: Its People, its Society, its Culture. New Haven, Conn.:
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Tao Shilong, 3 April 2006, The Crooked Evil of 'Feng Shui' Is Corrupting The Minds of Chinese
Emmons, C. F. "Hong Kong's Feng Shui: Popular Magic in a Modern Urban Setting." Journal of
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