What are "Lucky Numbers"



 SA "333-333" For Auction, Feb 13th 2011.

See The Great Plate Auction 2011 link to the left.

Lucky numbers have always been a favourite of mine.



Infact, for some time I owned and had my personal car registered in the SA historic plate "168", a number considered amongst the most lucky in Chinese numerology.

There is a lot of confusion, amongst non-Chinese plate collectors, around what is a lucky number, a lucky plate.

Here I've attempted to provide some information around this phenomenon.

Chinese numbers become lucky, or auspicious, as the pronunciation for these numbers can at the same time sound similar to a "lucky" word.....

.....or example, the Chinese word for "eight" sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth".

Hence, "8's" are sought after.

Other numbers for this reason are considered lucky also, such as "3" and "9", and some conversely are considered markedly unlucky.

In general, and this is a very simplified summary not taking into account Cantonese or Mandarin dialects or regional traditions, Chinese lucky numbers are:

2- "good things come in pairs". Double number names or numbers are desirable in Chinese

3- lucky because it sounds similar to the character for "birth" e.g. 38 and 388 equate to "prosperity from birth"

5- is a number associated with the five elements of "water, wood, fire, earth and metal"; and thus also is a number associated with the Emperor

6- "happiness", "fluidity"

7- "togetherness" and is also pronounced like the character for "arise". Lucky in both Chinese and Western cultures

8- similar in pronunciation to "fortune", "wealth" and "prosper". The luckiest of all numerals.

9- being the "highest" of all single-digit numbers, 9 was historically associated with the Emperor; the Emperor's robes often symbolically featured nine dragons, and mythology told that the dragon has nine children.

Conversely, the "unlucky" numbers are, on their own or in numeric combinations:

4- "death"

5- "not" e.g. 58 equates to "not prosper" yet it can be positive, such as 54 "not death"

7- "ghostly"- this is an interesting numeral as it can be either lucky or unlucky- see above.

So, when some numerals are combined the plate can "speak" of auspiciously- to the reader and of the plate owner. For example, plate

168 - reads “fortune all the way” , “road of prosperity” or to be prosperous. Together the numerals literal translation is "continuing to be wealthy"— many premium-paid telephone numbers in China begin with this number. It is also the name of a motel chain in China (Motel 168).

678 - reads “fortune all the way”

99 — doubly long, in time; hence eternal; e.g. it is used in the name of a popular Chinese-American supermarket chain, 99 Ranch Market.

518 — I will prosper, other variations include: 5189 (I will prosper for a long time), 516289 (I will get on a long, smooth prosperous road) and 5918 (I will soon prosper)

814 — Similar to 168, this means "be wealthy, entire life". 148 also implies the same meaning "entire life be wealthy". Note the placement of the "unlucky" 4, symbolising " 'til death".

888 — Three times the prosperity, means "wealthy wealthy wealthy".

1314 — for your whole lifetime, whole existence.

Conversely, in Hong Kong, seven & nine both have similar pronunciations and in combination with other numerals ( e.g. 6, see below) are similar in pronunciation to the word for male genitals, with this being a word considered to be amongst the most "offensive" in Chinese culture. The following numbers are therefore considered " dirty jokes" in Hong Kong culture:




Generally we advise that if you like a number, or sequence of numbers, then be confident to buy what you like. But, for some of our clients, the desire for the magic number 888 or any similar numer will never wane. And, before you ask, SA 888 is in long term ownership by an astute local owner known to historicplates.com.au- and this guilt edged historic plate is unlikely to EVER come onto the market.