The Mahjong History

Mahjong hieroglyph Sparrow
Mahjong hieroglyph saying Sparrow

The Mahjong history of the game is a very questioning topic. Someone says this game is a thousand years old, but some other says this was invented just few hundred years ago. And there is none who can be sure and right about it. We do know several certain facts and some different stories about the origin of the Mahjong game.

From the very beginning, we want to warn you. The classic Online Mahjong (“ma que” – the sparrow) game you got used to play is called Mahjong Solitaire. The Original Mahjong has nothing in common with its online brother. Bear this in mind when considering the rules of the game.

The Origin of Mahjong

Among different and numerous myths and stories about the creation of mahjong there is a realistic one.

They say the game was invented 100-150 years ago in the Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai and Ningbo cities, just for one purpose — leisure and fun.

Mahjong game History and rules
The History of Mahjong

There is no proof the game in rather ancient or modern. Also we cannot tell exactly one person did invent it on purpose, or it came out by a group of people, trying to make them fun.

Several possibilities more for Mahjong game first appearance:

  1. The game was often played by noble gentlemen somewhere in a suburb of the Shanghai city.
  2. Chinese solders played this game a lot during their free time on military service.

Original Mahjong history and myths

We are going to dedicate you to some knowledge about the creation and developing of this interesting game.

The Noah’s Ark

We have decided to start from the time when our Planet, as we know it now, started existing.

This assumption takes place to exist, but none and never can prove it.

As we know the Mahjong game rules are telling us that there are 4 winds blowing, and the Eastern one is the main one — leading wind.

Mahjong tiles of ivory
Mahjong tiles set made of Ivory

So the main thought of this theory is that all the creatures played this game during the Great Flood on the Ark. And the leading wind was chosen because then there was Eastern wind blowing naturally.

Original Mahjong — Confucius’ game

This one next myth is describing latter times — Confucius’ times. They say the game was created by the Great Emperor around 500 B.C. Tiles special drawings are explained by the great love and passion of Confucius to the traveling.

Also there is a group of tiles in a set, called 3 Dragons; each one is dedicated to 3 main virtues of life:

  • The White Dragon. The goodwill, honesty and respect to your roots.
  • The Red Dragon. Temperance.
  • The Green Dragon. Prosperity.

The etymology of the name of the game is also dedicated to Emperor Confucius. The literal translation of the name says “Sparrow”. Everyone back then knew that birds were one more passion of the Dynast.

Find out more interesting things about The Equipment for Original Mahjong in the article.

Mahjong of the Antique fishers

This is the most trivial myth of all the others. It only says that the game of tiles was played by fishermen during long fishing for 2 purposes:

  • To kill time, because, as we all know, fishing is actually a very time needed activity, and, sometimes, boring;
  • To avoid the seasickness. The sea and its waves are insidious things. Even experienced fisher can have the seasickness during long term fishing.

Try to play The Marine Mahjong. This exact game will tell you about waves, sea and ships.

Nowadays Mahjong

The popularity of this game in Asian countries, despite the fact the population there is very huge, is nothing compared to the popped up popularity of Mahjong in the West in the 20th century.

mahjong in the usa 1920s
Mahjong in the USA 1920s

The Mahjong game got its huge popularity in first 2 decades of the 20th century. The game firstly got nationally, then popped up all over the Asian world and after this came to Europe and America.

The Mahjong game got modified by the area it came to, so now the Mahjong on the West, and the Original Mahjong are different games with similar and different rules for each other.


But also bear in mind, the Mahjong you know now is having the name of an old hard game. The Online Mahjong game is about only one rule: collect similar tiles in pairs; the tiles should not be having special and traditional tiles drawings. It may be absolutely various.

Try yourself on playing the Mahjong online and free games on our site. Do not forget to turn the full screen mode to enjoy the game. We can offer you several HTML5 and Flash games, whether you want to play it on Mobile or PC or any other devices. Compete and win, prove you can do it:

  1. Mahjong mania;
  2. MonsterJong;
  3. Winter Mahjong HTML 5 .

Video Original Mahjong playing

This is the video of Chinese women playing Mahjong. It shows that the rules of it are really different from what you got used to. Incredible!

5/5 — (3 votes)
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