Mah jongg is among the world’s oldest games, first created in China before spreading internationally. In North America and elsewhere, the game has played an important role in building social connections. The game takes strategy and consists of a series of tiles with different images and symbols. Mah jongg sets vary greatly around the world.
Q: What is Chinese Version Like?
A: The original version of mah jongg is still what is largely played today in China. The game is traditionally played with four people, with a set of 144 tiles depicting different Chinese characters and images. Modern Chinese game sets typically come in vinyl or cloth-covered cardboard cases.
Q: How is the American Game Set Different?
A: American mah jongg typically consists of 152 tiles. While many do include suits of Chinese characters, the tiles are all marked with Roman letters and Arabic numerals (the letters and numbers recognizable to English speakers). It also usually comes in a long case of cardboard, plastic or wood.
Q: When Did the ‘Western World’ Start Playing Mah Jongg?
A: The game was introduced first to English clubs in Shanghai sometime in the early 1900s. Within a few years it traveled back to Europe, and then on to the U.S.
Q: What Other Kinds of Mah Jongg Game Sets Exist?
A: There are actually different versions of mah jongg all over the world, notably across Asia. For example, Korea and Japan mah jongg games are often played with three people (instead of four) and use fewer suits of tiles. Because of this, these game sets also come with fewer tiles than their Chinese and American counterparts. Naturally, Korean and Japanese characters may be substituted.
Q: So, Where to Buy Mah Jongg Set?
We at Where the Winds Blow have a wide selection of great American mah jongg sets and related products. There are sets with larger images and tiles, travel sets, and customers can even design their own sets or order personalized tiles. Interestingly, American mah jongg can be used to play Chinese mah jongg, but not the other way around. So for many, an American set is the best way to go.