Walking through a parking lot, one can’t help but notice this silver reptile creature with a novel look lingering on the backs of many cars. The gecko, compared to cooler symbols such as spiders, scorpions, bats and serpents, may not be the most popular sticker, but here in Dongguan, geckos are most often seen on their tail ends no matter what make, model or color the car is. Just like many other favorites of locals, it comes with a superstitious reason.
In many cultures, the gecko represents life and re-growth; In China, geckos are an auspicious mascot for collecting wealth. They also repel evil and exorcise demons. But this is not the sole reason for its popularity.
Its Mandarin pronunciation bìhǔ, which is close to the word bì huò, meaning to avoid misfortune, assures its connection with traffic vehicles because safety is an important concern to drive a car. It stands out from all the car stickers with the cultural and homophonic symbolism. Therefore, it is said, “by sticking a gecko on the back of your car, you can avoid disfavor and accidents on the road.”
Other reasons, sounding silly or unrealistic, maybe, are something people may believe in harmlessly. Some say it prevents mosquitoes going inside the car when a gecko is looking out for you from behind; others opt for the logic that believes the gecko icon assures that any damage done to the rear end will be quickly repaired, like that the tails of gecko.
One of the most logical and solid reason behind the gecko sticker, is the imitation to the Audi Quattro logo, which was the first permanent four-wheel drive system designed for passenger vehicles and applied on road and rally cars. People wish to get the same power as Audi Quattro by sticking its logo on their cars. The creature became widely accepted and looks cool to display on cars.
The gecko is not the only superstitious example when it comes to choosing car decals. Spiders and bats share the same privilege. A phonetic interpretation for spider is zhīzú, meaning content; and biàn fú for bat, meaning happy everywhere. They are both broadly used as car stickers.