by Michael Stanwick
(1) The purpose of this site is to provide information about the Mahjong tile set for interested collectors, researchers and students of the game, as well as anyone who would like to know more about a tile set in their possession.
(2) In the Navigation Bar across the top of this page you will see links to the major sections of this site.
These links are described below to help you navigate this site. Please read these descriptions before you proceed.
(3) Immediately below this Quick Introduction is a News section where you can catch up on current additions, as well as the latest events happening in the world of the Mahjong tile set for researchers and collectors.
(4) At the bottom of this page I have given a brief synopsis of, and Useful Links to, other web sites devoted to the tile set.
[Please note this website does not retain any personal information]
The tile set is one component of a game that is known by many different names, pronunciations and spellings. For example:
NEW. Since The Mahjong Collector magazine has now ceased publication, its space on this Home page will now be used for short examinations of various attributes of Mahjong tile sets – from an aesthetic and historical perspective – as well as showcasing the types of differences that are exhibited by the patterns on tiles found in tile sets. This section is labelled Fascinating Mahjong(g) Tiles.…Read More
Update. Completed the next page of Tony Watson’s MJ collection Gallery. See under Private Collections. Added another set to Garland Price Gallery. See under Private Collections.
Recent additions to the site are; (1) a section – The Tile and Card Game Name – on the derivation of the name ‘Mahjong” from existing names for the game during the late 19th century. An etymological hypothesis is put forward by Hongbing Xu that discusses this development. (2) An additional private collection is being added to the Private Collections section. This is still under…Read More
In the article The Origin and Development of the Mahjong Tile Set. Part 10, page 44 and 45, in the latest issue of The Mahjong Collector magazine, there is an error in the 2nd paragraph. Figures 5-8 do not have Arabic numerals and therefore the penultimate sentence in that paragraph should have been omitted.
The early appearances and developments of the tile set are presented in eight articles using documentary evidence, with pictures of key tile sets – among them the earliest so far discovered and documented.
Six of these articles originally appeared in The Playing-card, the Journal of the International Playing Card Society. The last article argues for a link between the suits of early Chinese playing cards and the suits of the early mo ziang tile set (what became known as Mahjong).
Another link may also be found in the names used for an 18th century card game and the 19th century mo ziang game, and this is discussed in the next article ‘máquè/májiàng/Mahjong terms 1780-1920’.
The discussion in this article also highlights the geographical spread of the card game of máquè and the tile game of mo ziang as well as identifying the social conditions and the social vectors that aided that spread.
This article documents the introduction to the West of one of the most popular versions of the Chinese game of 麻雀, má qiǎo (sparrow(s), má què in modern Pinyin).
This introduction is explained via the fortuitous meetings of J. P. Babcock, A. R. Hager and A. N. Lethin and their formation of the Mah-Jongg Company of China, of San Francisco and the Continental Mah-Jongg Sales Co., – as well as their patents and trademarks.
This article is thoroughly referenced throughout and also features photos of the individuals mentioned above.
This section describes and illustrates Chinese money-suited playing cards from which the tile set suits most probably were derived. Some of these examples date from the 19th century. Also featured is an example of a Late Qing four suited ma diao deck. A brief introduction describes the construction and explains the meaning of the names of the individual suits.
Gallery 1.0. Tile sets that share the same structure as the Himly/Glover sets (1868 – 1876).
Gallery 1.1. Tile sets that share the structure of Wilkinson/Laufer sets (1889 – 1901).
Gallery 2.0. Tile sets that share the same structure as the Culin tile set (1909). This Gallery is in turn divided into 5 Sub-galleries, based on tile material composition;
2. Bone and Bamboo. Because sets of this composition were so plentiful, this Sub-gallery is further divided up into Galleries based on container types. Thus;
3. Ivory and Bamboo.
4. Bone and Ebony.
1. Alternative Tile Sets.
Presented here, in three categories, are illustrations of key research documents and texts, including additional books on Chinese symbolism and character translation for the novice. Also included are examples of the booklets commonly found with tile sets exported from China, as well as some of the earliest key texts and manuals in English.
This section features a catalogue of materials used in tile manufacture. The list – consisting of pictured examples and detailed texts describing their properties, manufacturing history and use – is probably not exhaustive. An excellent introduction into the diversity of materials for making tiles. (A page featuring key tiles and the translations of their sinograms will be added in due course.)
This Gallery contains a small selection of Tile Racks composed of mainly wood – either plainly painted or lacquered or painted and lacquered with intricate designs overpainted into the paint or lacquer. Also featured are Racks of a very simple design and made of metal and varnished wooden Racks of complex construction.
Please note that I hold the Copyright to all material on this site. If you wish to use or quote any material please feel free to ask me and, if granted, credit me in the appropriate reference. I constructed this web site to disseminate the knowledge it contains to those interested in the subject. Please feel free to donate to help me maintain this service.