A Complicated Chinese New Year Character


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!


Combined Characters

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:

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 :

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