I was given a pair of gold cufflinks by my grandfather who was in Shanghai 100 years ago. Each shows a Chinese character (Mandarin, I guess) and I would like to know what these mean. However I have searched with possible English words (left/right, prosperity/health, sun/moon, man/woman, east/west etc) and not seen anything similar in either simplified or traditional. I have tried via OCR (baidu.com and others) with no meaningful results (mostly none at all) even when rotated.

I appreciate that this site is not a free translation service but have asked on meta and understand that a concession may be allowed where reasonable effort has been made to obtain a translation independently. In addition to trying to guess the translation and working backwards, I have tried:

  1. Uploading the images to Google Docs with the option Convert uploaded files to Google Docs format. This merely inserted the images as images. According to The OCR Software Blog:

Just like with English Google OCR disappoints and is clumsy to use. It seems to be some kind of black magic if or if not the OCR conversion is triggered.

  1. Each of OnlineOCR, NewOCR and i2 OCR. The first returned No recognized text ! for both orientations of both images. NewOCR offered no response and i2OCR showed just the uploaded images (and anyway clicking Translate , then Google returned: The page isn’t redirecting properly and This problem can sometimes be caused by disabling or refusing to accept cookies. I do have AdBlock Plus installed but since only to remove from sight the ad mentioned here (that was still appearing on Web Applications about a year after This appears to have been updated.) the settings are not strict (supposed to be only applicable to Stack Exchange but I admit I have seen a few sites asking me to disable AdBlock).

  2. I tried the demo version of ABBYY Cloud OCR SDK but Chinese in any form isn’t available under Recognition languages. I did have ABBYY software but am reluctant to replace it after a change in hardware just for the sake of two characters.

A scan of the cufflinks is shown and the sketches I took in the hope they might aid identification and hence translation:

Scan of cufflinks

Sketch of one cufflink Sketch of other cufflink

Please note that I would be very grateful for any of the following:

  • A technique for ‘solving’ such a problem without a human translator.
  • Advice of which way is ‘up’.
  • The name of the language.
  • Whether Simplified or Traditional.
  • Readable character versions (not images!).

So something other than translation would be very acceptable. I just don’t fancy wading through what I believe are some ~5,000 symbols trying to find matches!

  • 1
    precisely, the "壽" in the cufflink is a variant character; not the standard one in dictionary. dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/variants/rbt/… well, it might be too difficult for foreigner to find the difference. Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 18:21
  • for character lookup may use four-corner input method, e.g. sijiao.911cha.com 壽50340, 福 31266 (from handwritten form it may not be so easy to recognize top left corner as 3)
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 23:52
  • 1
    correction: 50340 belongs to simplified 寿, 壽 is 40641
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 3:32
  • This is not a place for technical stuff like OCR/Computer Vision suggestion.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 16:51
  • You will get more luck if you look for Tesseract under stackoverflow and/or Artificial intelligent (tensor flow,etc). You need to deal with a lot of "features" manipulation before you can get a desired "automation" (and huge amount of training . Which enough for you to start a business or a carrier somewhere ;-)
    – mootmoot
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 16:56

3 Answers 3


it's 福 (u+798f) & 壽 (u+58fd), both in traditional chinese.

福 is "happiness; good fortune; prosperity; blessing"

壽 is "age, life, longevity, birthday"



about the technique, well, i learn traditional chinese since childhood, there's no difficulty in recognising it.

your sketch is correct, to show which way is up.

have fun :)


A technique for ‘solving’ such a problem without a human translator

I pretend I did not know Chinese, I use 'Chinese hand writing input' on my iPad to mimic the brush strokes in the image you posted with my finger movement. I got a list of suggestions, Use your judgement to see which one is closest to the original image. Among all the suggestions, '壽' and '福' are the closest.

Advice of which way is ‘up’

familiarize yourself with Radi­cal https://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/radicals.php you can tell which side is up generally.

The name of the language

Copy and paste whatever words into Google Translate and click 'detect language' button. It will tell you what language the words are in.

Whether Simplified or Traditional

Copy and paste '壽' and '福' into Google Translate and set target result as 'Simplified Chinese', you will get '寿' and '福'. Then you know '壽' is a traditional Chinese characters and '福' is used in both traditional and simplified Chinese.

Finally, check online dictionary to learn the meaning of the character



  • 1
    Whether simplified or traditional: if the cuff links are 100+ years old, there's only one choice here... ☺
    – dda
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 14:49
  • You can find Chinese hand writing app for computer or smartphone
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 13:56

@水巷孑蠻 has already provided the correct answer - I just want to provide some additional methods for getting the answer.

I took your written characters and put them into Pleco's OCR software:


Your 福 was recognized almost straight away and you can see the definition above.

Your 壽 was recognized as 毒, originally, but the OCR software has an option where you can press & hold and finger draw over the character - helping the software to detect the actual character.

Here are the results:



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