The History of Mahjong - Oh My Mahjong

The History of Mahjong

Mahjong is a tile-based game that originated in China in the early 19th century. It is a game of skill, strategy, and luck and has become a popular pastime in many countries worldwide. The game's popularity has spread rapidly since it was first introduced, and it has become an integral part of many cultures.

Origins of Mahjong

Mahjong's origins can be traced back to China in the mid-19th century. The game was first played in the eastern provinces of China and is said to have been invented by a man named Confucius. The game's original purpose was to teach students about discipline, strategy, and calculation.
Mahjong's original name was "Mah Tiae," which means "sparrows" in Chinese, as the game's tiles were adorned with images of birds. Over time, the name was changed to "Mahjong," which means "hemp bird" and refers to the sound that the tiles make when they are shuffled.
The game quickly gained popularity in China, particularly among the upper class. It was often played in social settings, such as tea houses, where players would gather to socialize and compete. Mahjong was also played for money, which added an element of excitement and risk to the game.
Mahjong was introduced to the Western world in the early 20th century, when it became popular among American and European expatriates living in China. The game's popularity continued to grow, and it soon spread to other parts of the world.

The Tiles

Mahjong tiles are made of different materials, such as bamboo, bone, or ivory. The tiles' faces depict various Chinese symbols, characters, and designs. The game is played with a set of four players, and each player receives 13 tiles.

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Mahjong has changed over time

Mahjong has changed significantly since its inception, and many variations of the game have emerged. For example, American Mahjong has a different set of rules and tiles than the traditional Chinese version. Additionally, Japanese Mahjong has its own unique set of rules, scoring systems, and tiles.

Mahjong is also played differently in various parts of the world. For instance, in China, Mahjong is typically played for money, whereas in the United States and Europe, it is more commonly played for recreation and socialization.

Where people play Mahjong

Mahjong is played in various settings worldwide, including homes, community centers, and clubs. In some countries, it is even recognized as a competitive sport, and there are international tournaments held regularly.

In China, Mahjong is often played in tea houses or other social settings, where players gather to socialize and compete. The game is also popular in other parts of Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Mahjong has gained popularity in the West as well, with many people playing it in their homes, community centers, and senior centers. There are also many Mahjong clubs and organizations, such as the National Mah Jongg League, that organize tournaments and provide resources for players.

The National Mah Jongg League

In 1937, a group of Jewish Mah Jongg players in New York City came together with a common goal: to establish a uniform set of rules and hands for the game. Thus, the National Mah Jongg League was formed. Every year, the League introduces new hands and rules to keep the game exciting.

For more than 86 years, the National Mah Jongg League has been the ultimate authority on everything related to American Mah Jongg. What began with 32 members has now grown to over 350,000 members.

To play the game, players must purchase the annual set of rules from the National Mah Jongg League. We highly recommend getting four copies of the large cards to ensure that all players have access to the rules during the game.

The National Mahjong League provides support to a diverse range of charitable organizations. You can view the list here.

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Mahjong is a game that has been enjoyed for centuries and has evolved into various forms, reflecting the cultural differences and preferences of the players. It is a game of strategy, skill, and luck that provides entertainment and socialization opportunities for people worldwide. Whether played competitively or recreationally, Mahjong remains a beloved pastime that continues to capture the hearts and minds of people of all ages and backgrounds.