One of the myths of the origin of mahjong suggests that Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, developed the game in about 500 BC. The three dragon (cardinal) tiles also agree with the three cardinal virtues bequeathed by Confucius. Hóng Zhōng (紅中 , red middle), Fā Cái (發財 , prosperity), and Bái Ban (白板 , white board) represent benevolence, sincerity, and filial piety, respectively.
The myth also claims that Confucius was fond of birds, which would explain the name “mahjong” (maque 麻雀 = sparrow).
Many historians believe it was based on a Chinese card game called Mǎdiào (馬吊) (also known as Ma Tiae, hanging horse; or Yèzí [葉子], leaf) in the early Ming dynasty. This game was played with 40 paper cards similar in appearance to the cards used in the game Ya Pei. These 40 cards are numbered 1 to 9 in four different suits, along with four extra flower cards. This is quite similar to the numbering of mahjong tiles today, although mahjong only has three suits and, in effect, uses four packs of Ya Pei cards.
There is still some debate about who created the game. One theory is that Chinese army officers serving during the Taiping Rebellion created the game to pass the time. Another theory is that a nobleman living in the Shanghai area created the game between 1870 and 1875. Others believe that two brothers from Níngpō created mahjong around 1850, from the earlier game of Mǎdiào.
This Classic oriental Mahjong set, includes everything you need to play Mahjong. Black lacquered case is hand painted with an oriental art rendering of people playing a board game. Case is fitted with antiqued brass handles, corner fittings, and a classic oriental medallion hasp closure.
- Fully playable Mahjong set included as shown.
- Large, oriental style black lacquer case.
- Brass handles, corner fittings, and hasp.