Mahjong – Chinese Greatest Recreational Pastime Game

By Paul Chong / Sunday, 9 November 2014


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Chinese Favourite Mahjong Game

Mahjong has been the greatest recreational pastime game since the

1900s & is fast catching on with westerns in modern time. Usually 4 persons will play the game. They can play for hours! These days high tech also come into play with special designed collapsable mahjong table equipped with device for automatic shuffling of tiles & assembling them all ready for play.

However, I think half the fun is lost from its play because “table swimming of the tiles with your hands” generates stimulation & excitement. Some people also like the sound of it & this all add up to the enjoyment of the noisy game. Gamblers make a career of it. I once had a neighbour supporting two wives & several children  playing mahjong for his livelihood.

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Westerners at Popular Mahjong Game

In the early days of mahjong in the mid-19th Century, bone and bamboo tiles were manufactured by a whole village working together. One household would specialize in sawing the planks of bamboo, another would specialize in painting characters on the tiles, and so on.

When the mahjong craze of the 1920’s broke out in America, China quickly ran out of cow bones and the demand for thousands of mahjong sets became too much for small villages to handle. So bones were imported from slaughterhouses in Chicago and mahjong tile production moved to large factories in Shanghai.

These days, while most mahjong tiles are made out of fiberglass and melamine, production of traditional bone and bamboo tiles has shifted back to the villages. As in the past, each household has a specialty, and the production methods are basically unchanged from 150 years ago. In the town, a great number of households are involved in manufacturing mahjong sets. One household will cut the bone and bamboo, another shapes the tiles, another specialized in painting, and so on.

Watch the video to see how they make the mahjong tiles:

Embedded Video


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