History of Mahjong

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History of Mahjong
The Mahjong chinese hieroglyph

Mahjong (“ma que” – the sparrow) is a chinese gambling game, which is played by 4 people with 135-145 dice. The amount of the ivories depends on the exact type of mahjong. This game is widely known in China, Japan and other countries of the Southern Asia. The original Mahjong is alike with modern poker game: the winner is the one who collects the best tile combination among the players. Also this game includes bluff and emotional tricks.

Mahjong, as we know it now, the game where you should collect same tiles is called Mahjong Solitaire. There is only the name and the pictures of tiles are in common with Original game.

The creature of Mahjong

Despite the fact there are a lot of myths and legends telling us about the creature of the game mahjong, there is a realistic version.

The fact based story says that the Mahjong game was created not more than 100-150 years ago around the region close to the Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai and Ningbo cities. There is no proof that Mahjong is an old ancient game.

There are no documents saying who exactly created the game, whether it’s a man or a group of people.

Mahjong play
An Ancient style picture of Mahjong play

There are also several theories of mahjong first appearance:

  • One says this game was played by the chinese soldiers and officers during their leisure.
  • Another says that the game was often played by one nobleman, living in the Shanghai suburb.

Each one of these theories has it’s right to be the truth.

Myths about the Mahjong game

There are a huge amount of myths around the appearance and developing of the Original Mahjong game.

Confucius’ game

First myth says that the Mahjong game was created by the Confucius at around 500 B.C. The appearance of the game in different part of China is connected with the Confucius love and passion to travel.

Also the game chips are named 3 dragons are referred to the 3 main virtues of the life:

  1. The Red Dragon – temperance.
  2. The Green Dragon – prosperity.
  3. The White Dragon – goodwill, respect to your roots and honesty.
History of Mahjong
A set of Mah Jongg tiles

Also this Myth explains the etymology of the game: the literal translation of the game is the sparrow dedicated to Confucius’ love to birds.

You can also see and find how many special items “Mahjong: game equipment” have in our article.

Fisherman of the antiquity

The other legend says that the game was created in ancient times by the fisherman called Jie. So the game was made for fishers to play it while fishing to avoid the symptoms of the seasickness.

The Noah’s Ark

This one conjecture tell us about  mahjong game that was played on the Noah’s Ark by all the creatures.

The Asian style of the game is explained by the theory that then there was the Eastern wind blowing.

There are a lot of other Myths of the Mahjong creature. But they are worthless compared to these.

Mahjong game nowadays

Popularity of the game was not this huge and worldwide right before the XX century. It was played only in the southern part of China.

History of Mahjong
1950s time Mahjong play

But afterwards there was a big jump up of the popularity: during two first decas of the XX century the game became national and came to the other Asian countries and the whole World.

By the 1920 the mahjong game was worldwine known and considered as a national wealth of the China. USA and Europe started playing this game which made a huge stir especially in America.

You better read an article telling about Mahjong in the West.

There are also a various opinions and points of view about the origin of the name.

The original name is literally translated as a Sparrow. This explains that the knock of the dibs sounds like the sparrow tweet. Also the Sparrow in the Chinese cuntruse symbolise the acumen.

Mahjong Ace game
The pyramid of Online Mahjong Ace Game

Nowadays everybody, who knows what Mahjong is, are playing another type of mahjong game called Mahjong solitaire. The game attributes became an object for the collectors and the museums.

Everything about The Mahjong Solitaire you can read in our article dedicated to it.

To try yourself playing this game, and understand whether you are smart enough or not, you may play the huge variety of mahjong games online and for free on our site.

There are Mahjong Mania game, Cartoon Mahjong and the Abstract Mahjong we offer you to try and see how Mahjong has developed and changed since the ancient times.

Video of Mahjong Playing

See how people in China play the Original Mahjong in nowadays time. The speed and acumen are incredible.

Comments: 1
  1. Lydia Dun

    Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

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