Ebony and Bone Set

ebony and bone higlights
ebony and bone highlights

This Mahjong set is beautifully carved, with extraordinary details everywhere.

The One Bam peacock is charming, and the other Bams are ornate. The arrangement of the 9 Dots is unusual.

The top row of Flower tiles represent shanshui, a landscape with mountains and water. Frequently these scenes include someone in a small boat, as can be seen on tiles 1 and 2. Tile 3 has a pagoda nestled on the bank with a small junk beyond. Birds soar through the air on tile 4. The words on the tiles translate to wishes for a long and happy life.

Notice the different leaves and trunks on each tree in the bottom row of Flowers. The trees are pine, cypress, paulownia or Chinese parasol tree, and Chinese Toon or tree of heaven.

I am still trying to understand two images seen on the tiles: the one which looks like a pennant seen on the top #3, and the one that might be an abstract image of a pagoda, seen on top Flower tiles 1, 2 and 3. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

For more information about other images, Patricia Bjaaland Welch and her book Chinese Art A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery is very helpful. Excerpts from her book may be found online.


Below you will see what really sells these sets: the exquisite bone and ebony dovetail.

ebony and bone dovetail
ebony and bone dovetail


One thought on “Ebony and Bone Set

  1. Tony Watson

    Oh my! The carving is superb, and I love the way the artist has used all of the tile for his designs. The dovetailing is amazing - I know from bitter personal experience how difficult it is to achieve this - I wonder how many rejects they had before they managed to get a full set?!

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