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Most Important 5 things you need to know about Mahjong

Mahjong a Chinese strategy game in which players must collect four sets of tiles and one pair of tiles. This is called a “mahjong.”

A pair must contain two tiles from the same tile, while the four sets may include either “pung,” or “kong” and “chow”. Sets are also known as melds.

A “pung” refers to a group of three identical tiles placed in a row. A “kong” set is four tiles that are identical in each row. A “chow”, a string of three numbers consecutively from the same suit (i.e., A four-character, five-character, and six-character tile can be lined up.

A mahjong is a game where you draw and discard tiles until you have a winning hand. You can visit and play many different versions of Mahjong.

The game has grown and evolved outside of China. Different countries, and even different regions within the country, have their own rules and unique tiles.

How did this game become so popular? Who and when was this game first created?

Origins of Mahjong

Many would attribute the invention mahjong to Confucius. He was a prolific Chinese philosopher whose teachings are reflected in every aspect of Chinese culture today.

The three sets of dragon tiles used in the game are compared to the three noble virtues of Jesus: sincerity, familial piiety, and benevolence.

A strong affinity for birds was also his. Many Chinese today associate “Mah Jong”, the Chinese word for “sparrow”, with Confucius’ teachings.

A 2013 Stanford report found that mahjong actually originated in Shanghai in the middle-to-late 1880s.

In 1905, there were more players than ever in China, so a set of rules was needed.

Around this time, the rules for shuffling, how you construct four walls using tiles, how to deal with the tiles and the creation the “kong set” were created.

This rule system is more complicated to make sure that there are no cheats during the game. Mahjong was played almost exclusively by gamblers at the time.

But mahjong quickly became a popular game for connecting cultures, thanks to American tourists and entrepreneurs.

Mahjong has become a popular game in the West. There are many versions of the game that have appeared in all kinds of communities across America and Europe.

The Stanford study showed that both Jewish-American and Chinese communities benefitted from the popularity of the game.

Chinese-Americans found a connection with their cultural roots, as well as with the white American population that saw them more like neighbors than friends.

Mahjong brought together the entire Chinese-American community, where people from all backgrounds, ages, genders and backgrounds could just sit down and have fun based on their shared heritage.

The game became very popular among Jewish communities and Jewish women in the years after World War II. Many of the large migration families that moved from dense urban areas to quieter suburbia created a feeling of isolation in Jewish women at the time.

Mahjong was then a way for these women connects with each other, creating new social networks that are exclusively made up of people who love the game. Many of these women continue to play Mahjong together, according to the study.

How to Play Mahjong

Because the rules have been modified and readapted many times, they may be different depending on where you live, what region you are in, or even which neighborhood you wish to play.

Some locations will give you tiles that are unique, while others may have new rules.

For simplicity’s sake, here are the basic rules of mahjong in China that can be used in any country.

A mahjong complete set includes 144 tiles, two dice, and a total of 216 tiles. You will find four racks for your tiles and tallying sticks to help you score.

A Note about Tiles

The 144-mahjong tile are further divided into three suits, honor tiles and bonus tiles.


There are 36 circle tiles, also known as Dot tiles. Each set contains nine tiles and is numbered 1–9.

These tiles have circles imprinted on them that correspond to their number. The four 1-tiles will have one circle, while the four 2-tiles have two circles.

Each set contains 36 Character tiles. There are four sets of nine tiles. The Chinese characters 1–9 are imprinted on each set.

Each set contains 36 bamboo tiles. There are four sets of nine tiles. These tiles will be adorned with bamboo shoots that correspond to their number.

Honor Tiles

Each set contains 16 Wind tiles. Four sets of four tiles represent the North, East and South Winds. These tiles are one type honor tile.

There are 12 Dragon tiles. Three sets of four Dragon tiles represent the Red Dragon, which is often indicated with a red character. Four tiles represent the Green Dragon. Four tiles represent the White Dragon.

The White Dragon can be depicted either as a blank tile, or as four tiles with the letter P on them. This stands for “Pai”, which is Chinese for pure or white. These are the second kind of honor tile.

Bonus tiles

You can also find four Flower tiles as well as four Seasonal tiles. You can earn bonus points by drawing any of these tiles.

The depiction of flowers on mahjong sets can vary depending on their design, but the most popular are plum blossom and orchid.

To assist those who couldn’t read Chinese characters, the four Seasonal tiles were later included to the game.

Mahjong Rules

Although mahjong is typically played with four players, some countries in Southeast Asia have three-player versions.


First. Have one person place four wind tiles face-down on a table and then deal them to each player. The wind position will determine where players sit. They will be seated clockwise around each player in the North, East and South positions.

You don’t have to place your table so that it faces their cardinal directions. This is merely a way to determine who the dealer will actually be.

The dealer always sits in East position at the table. This seat is double-digital because it is a key position. However, it also pays twice as much. Modern players may also roll the dice to determine a dealer.

The dealer will now need to shuffle the tiles face-down. The season and flower tiles should be left out for novice players until they are more familiar with mahjong’s standard rules.

Each player takes 34 tiles and places them face down on the table. Then, he or she arranges the tiles into a wall consisting of two stacks each of 17 tiles. The walls should be combined to create a square.

The dealer then rolls a die. The dealer will then roll the dice to determine which number they land on.

The remaining wall is used to give 13 tiles clockwise each player except the dealer who receives 14 tiles at the beginning.

The tiles are then placed in front of players so they can see them and not the others. Racks can be useful for hiding your hand.

This video explains how to play mahjong.


The dealer begins by placing one of their tiles face up in the middle and then drawing one from the wall. Each player has the option to choose whether to discard a tile or to complete a “pung,” a “kong,” or a “chow” mahjong — or to keep their tiles.

These melds must be called out as they are made. Flip them over to other players to reveal their identities.

If a meld is called out, the caller must discard any tile that is not part of the meld. The turn will then be given to the person to their right. If you are unable to draw a tile face-down from your wall, or if you have a meld or pair of tiles that you cannot discard, you may draw another tile.

A “ kong” is a situation in which a player can grab an additional tile to discard.

The game continues until someone wins a hand or all tiles are used up. The game ends in a draw if the dealer does not shuffle the tiles.

Even if someone wins a mahjong, they only have won that round.

The deal will be completed when the round ends.

Once everyone has had a chance to deal twice, the game is officially over. The winner is the player with the most points at the end.

The point system varies from one region to the next, so players need to agree on which one to use before every game.

How to make your own Mahjong Set

Although mahjong sets are not cheap, they can be very expensive. You can still find the cheapest mahjong sets for $50, but the more expensive sets will cost you well over $100 on Amazon.

Make your own mahjong sets if you don’t want to spend so much on a brand-new set.

Although tiles can be considered a bad idea, novice players can still enjoy the game by using cards as a way to get experience.

After getting used to the rules, you can gradually increase your use of cardboard or hand-carved wooden tiles.

This is a simple example of how a mahjong fan can create their own set from wood and colored pencils.


  • Blank tiles.
  • Print paper.
  • Adhesive paper or label.
  • Utility knife


  1. First, you must purchase your tiles. You can either use the backs from dominoes or blank plastic tiles. Or you can buy custom-cut wooden tiles at a hardware store.
  2. You can choose the patterns that you would like to use in your mahjong set. Traditional sets are made up of circles, bamboo, Chinese characters and dragons. However, you can personalize your mahjong set with other symbols if you want.
  3. You can scan the symbols and pictures that you would like to use, then resize them on your computer.
  4. To check if the pictures fit on the tiles, you can print a test sheet of regular paper. You can print each image on adhesive or label paper if they fit the tiles. Adjust your printer settings accordingly.
  5. Apply laminate to each design on labels or adhesive papers that do not have a laminate coat. This will protect your designs and keep your tiles’ surfaces smooth.
  6. Each design should be cut out using a utility knife. To prevent the corners from sticking to the tile, you should cut them at a 45-degree angle.
  7. Stick your designs carefully to the tiles
  8. Enjoy some Mahjong, and have fun!

This video shows how mahjong tiles can be made.


Mahjong is a popular game all around the globe, and it’s easy to see why.

It has a rich past that is rooted in many countries and has helped to form friendships across many cultures. You’ll be amazed at how addictive this pastime is!

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