Literally millions of cars in China have little gold or silver gecko emblems stuck on them. What do they mean? Find out here.
Little silver or gold geckos stuck over the outer surfaces of automobiles in China is an incredibly common sight. Generally, they are on the rear of the trunk next to the car’s manufacturer’s logo, crawling up the frame behind the backseat window, or stuck somewhere on the doors. I’d estimate that up to 1/5 of all private passenger vehicles in the country have at least one of these little lizard icons, but what do they mean?
I’ve heard foreigners speculate that these emblematic geckos represent anything from being the trademark of some car dealership to being a symbol of membership in some secret society, but the truth is actually more revealing of Chinese culture and the way it plays with language.
The Mandarin word for gecko is bìhǔ 壁虎, which sounds a little like bì huò 避祸, which means “to avoid disaster.” Basically, these geckos are a symbolic play on words that are used as good luck charms. The thinking is that if a car wears one of these bìhǔ emblems it will have a better chance to bì huò, avoid disaster; i.e., stay out of accidents.