Mahjong in the West


The first notation about the Mahjong in any other language beside Chinese was written in 1895. These were words by British sinologist William Henry Wilkinson. He mentioned in his works that in the middle-south of the China there was the collecting cards game called ma chioh. And there was not a word explaining the etymology of this definition, and what dialect it come from. After this there were made a lot of notation in japanese and french languages as well.

The popularity of Mahjong in USA

Mahjong in the West
1920s american people play Mahjong


The first game of Mahjong was imported to the USA in 1920s. It was sold by the young, for that time, company Abercrombie & Fitch. The success of the game was amazing, and afterwards the co-owner of the company Ezra Fitch sent her workers to China to buy every possible mahjong game they can find. These time there were sold 12 000 games in Washington and US.

This was the beginning of Mahjong Historyall around the world.

Everything about The History of Mahjong you can read in our article

Mahjong in the West
The Red Book or The Rules for Mah-Jongg

Also in 1920s Joseph Park Babcock wrote a whole book called “The Red Book” or “The Rules of Mah-Jongg”, obviously dedicated to Mah Jong. He learned everything about how to play and how to win while living in China.

Joseph tried his  best to simplify the game to make it more possible to play and more popular for americans. This was the beginning of the Mahjong fad in 20s. Unfortunately, after his death all the simplifications was canceled.

Closer to our modern time The game was divided by 2:

  • The Original Mahjong Game. Original wooden tiles with chips of ivory, played by 4 people. The game needs savvy and gamble. Because the game looks like poker, and also played for money.
  • The Mahjong Solitaire. This game is what we got used to see when playing online Mahjong games for free. The field filled with the tiles in a form of pyramid and each chip hides a part of other. The aim is to clean up the whole table by collecting similar tiles.

You can read more about The Mahjong Solitaire full instruction in article.

Mahjong in the West
USA women in middle of 20s century are playing mahjong

The Mahjong game became national in US. In 30s there were competitions of Mahjong. It developed and changed very much by nowadays. The common and usual for us kind of Mahjong is called The Jewish Mahjong.

This name appeared because mostly professional Mahjong players today are jewish.

The Industry of Mahjong

Producing Mahjong Equipment made a huge branch for market. The productions of different games has developed a field of mahjong a lot.
Now you can find in stores:

Wooden mahjong set
Wooden mahjong set
  • The set of Original Classic Mahjong game, including chips, wooden racks etc.
  • The carpets for the Mahjong  table, made of different materials and painted in all colors of rainbow.
  • The tables for mahjong covered with different materials.
  • The collectible sets of the game for collectors, true connoisseurs or professional players

You can learn more here The Mahjong: game equipment.

Of course China took a part in this production as well. China makes different colored chips, not only Classic sets, but also draws with animals for kids, girly styled flowers and shoes etc.
And this is not only for purchase, you can play Mahjong online and for free on our site. We have more that 150 different games dedicated to Mahjong for you to choose your best.

There are several games: such as Mahjong Link, Girls Mahjong and Animal Cube Mahjong are proving this.

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