A Comprehensive Guide to Mahjong Tile Sets

by Michael Stanwick

Quick Introduction

(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.

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[Please note this website does not retain any personal information]

Some Trivia

The tile set is one component of a game that is known by many different names, pronunciations and spellings. For example:

In the West;
Mahjong, Mah Jong, Mahjongg, Mah-Jongg, Mah Jongg, Majong, Ma Jong.
In the East;
Ma Que 麻雀, Ma Qiao 麻雀, Mah Diao, Peng Hu 碰和, Mah Tseuk, Mah Cheuk, Ma Chiang 麻將 and Ma Jiang 麻將.

Fascinating Mahjong(g) Tiles.

The Aesthetics and Language of Mahjong(g) Tiles.

Below are a group of eight high-end bone and bamboo “Flowers” tiles that were most probably produced sometime between 1920 and 1925.

Attesting to their quality is a bone thickness of 1cm and a bamboo thickness of 4mm at the end and 1mm beneath the dovetail. Further, the bone shows no evidence of the Haversian System.

Reading from right to left the top row of four tiles are; 寶  送 酒, bǎo chán sòng jiǔ “Precious Moon presents wine”. According to material provided by Ray Heaton, the name bǎo chán [Precious Moon] is the name of a female character in, and may be the name of, a Chinese opera from circa 1917 – the opera being an episode from the 18th century novel “Dream of the Red Chamber” by Cao Xueqin and perhaps adapted by or starring Ouyang Yuqian, a famous actor and playwright. In the opera the character bǎo chán [Precious Moon] is called ‘Moonbeam’.

The second row of tiles, from right to left are; 千 金 一 笑, qiān  jīn  xiào “a thousand pieces of gold/daughter, a smile”. Perhaps translated to “a thousand pieces of gold [is worth] one smile”. According to Ray Heaton, another translation is “A beauty’s smile is without price” and there may be an opera of this title, probably taken from the 1598 The Peony Pavillion by Tang Xianzu. There is also a reference to a short story from “Slapping the Table in Amazement” called “A Rich Man Pays a Thousand Pieces of Gold to Win a Beauty’s Smile”, 富翁千金一笑. [With special thanks to Ray Heaton].

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