Rumors and legends are said to be widespread about mahjong’s history, with most being untrue. It is said that these were creations of Confucius (Konfutses), the great philosopher himself around 500 BC. Others that it was a general Chen who around 1000 AD had invented it to ensure that his soldiers remain awake while carrying out their night watch duties.
The fact being that this game similar to other games was not an overnight creation, however was developed from the older games. Matiae, a popular card game is considered to be the foremost among it and is being played since the 17th century, featuring different money depictions in three major suits. Chen Yu-men (1817 to 1878) is regarded to be mahjong’s inventor, however, the 136 tile game was somewhat different from what it is seen today. He was a senior government official, living in Ningpo and had a wealthy family background. Playing games was one of his hobbies and he was more into card games and was quite skilled at it. Major elements were said to be taken by him from ma tiae, including other card games of that time. He then modified this game with several illustrative elements, gave few interesting twists and took the assistance of local ivory craftsman to create this game in tile form, around 1860. Main suits choice very well depicts that mahjong still is a game of money suits in its background. Individual coins are depicted by Circles of course. The stack of coins were originally bamboo that was bound together with a string and Chinese pictogram characters were used for ‘myriad’, to carry ‘wealth’ and ‘plentiful’ overtones and this is associated with coin masses or bags. Playing mahjong is sure to entertain your thoroughly.
Similar name, but different game
Mahjong, similar to any authentic ‘folk game’, exists in various regional and national numbers. 144 usual tiles are what most are played with. Also, there are some having extra tiles of bewildering range, which cannot be found elsewhere and has different effects and functions. Fly tiles, joker tiles, face tiles, window tiles, eye tiles, red five tiles, hundred uses tiles, Cat-Rat-rooster-Worm-Old Man-Gold pot tiles, etc. in Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea and other places. Mahjong collectors find such variant sets to be much popular and a great collection.