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What the Gecko Lizard Emblem on Cars in China Mean

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.

Gecko emblem on a car in China

Gecko emblem on car in China

Filed under: China, Culture and Society, Language

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 89 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3509 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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6 comments… add one

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  • Jack January 23, 2014, 5:34 pm

    And I never saw a single one out in Xinjiang all my time there. China is a diverse place.

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    • Wade Shepard January 23, 2014, 7:49 pm

      Really? Maybe the stock pile hasn’t arrived out there yet — or maybe people drive better out there 🙂

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      • Jack January 26, 2014, 10:07 am

        They do drive better in Karamay than they do in Grand Forks, ND. They actually scared me…..and they got road rage.

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        • Wade Shepard January 26, 2014, 7:37 pm

          Yes, at least there’s less road rage here. Everybody just drives insane and they seem to be used to it.

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  • Gneissrocks January 13, 2015, 9:26 pm

    Wow thanks! I have asked so many people this (including my chinese friends) and nobody gave me a believable answer. I got told many stories of secret truckers AA type accident recevery clubs etc. Thanks for clearing it up……now what about the transformers stickers?

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    • squint9 September 18, 2015, 3:38 pm

      That would indicate the presence of pre-teens or Sheldon’s in the home. ^_^

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