You might possibly have seen this character on a lot of Chinese New Year decorations, and wondered what it is and how to pronounce it. It certainly looks complicated and has 40 strokes!
This is actually not a character by itself but a what is known in Chinese as「合體字」,［合成字］, 「合文」or「合書」 or which translates to “Combined Character(s)”. These characters are created by combining two or more Chinese words into one Chinese character writing unit and may involve replacing, reusing, or combining components.
What ‘Character’ is this?
This particular ‘character’ is probably the most well-known of Combined Characters and is made up of 4 characters:
It retains the original pronunciation of the four characters
- Cantonese pronunciation – ziu1 coi4 zeon3 bou2
- Mandarin pronunciation – Zhāocái jìn bǎo
This is a Chinese New Year auspicious saying and means “Treasures fill the home or ushering in wealth and prosperity”, which explains why it is such a popular motif in Chinese New Year decorations.
How the Characters Combine
You can see how the characters 招財進寶 combine via the pictures below.
As you can see the characters 財 and 寶 overlap with the same 貝 component in this “character”. And left side of 招 (扌) and the right side of 財 (才) overlap.
If you prefer the explanation in a printable format, click here.
Use this ‘character’ in your Chinese New Year Décor (Free Printable)
Chinese New Year decorations with this ‘character’ should be really easy to find. We also have a print-friendly printable that you can print on red paper. There are two versions – the second one is an outline version, which you can colour, put stickers, practice your calligraphy. To download the printable, click here.
More About Combined Characters
To read more about Combined words or just to see more pictures of other combined words (they can’t be typed out), check out these articles (all in Chinese) and see if you can decipher the words:
- 蛤？！這些「組合字」春聯竟然還有讀音 「招財進寶」唸…
- 【閱讀書齋】《合文誌》- 繼「招財進寶」之後，組合字大量噴發的時代！
Just saw these Facebook post and now including them here. Can you figure out the characters in each ‘combined character’?
Other Chinese New Year resources :
- Chinese New Year Cantonese Teaching Activities and Resources 農曆新年粵語教材
- Chinese New Year Cantonese Vocabulary, Greetings and Banners 揮春
- Christian Chinese New Year Banners 基督春聯
- Year of the Tiger Cantonese Resources 虎年粵語教材
- God of Wealth is Arriving Cantonese Song Lyrics 財神到粵語歌詞
- Lantern Festival Cantonese Teaching Activities and Resources 元宵節粵語教材
You might also enjoy reading:
- Why it is hard for many ABCs to pass on Cantonese?
- Cantonese Music for Kids including lyric printables
- Cantonese Cartoons on YouTube