Chinese Bakelite Mahjong Leisure Set

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We are all familiar with these hand carved Mahjong leisure sets. The Flowers represent what the Chinese craftsmen thought people did in their free time.

In this set it makes a difference in terms of how the tiles are arranged. They had to be laid out 4321, or else one misses the linked scenes.

These tiles show adults in the top row. The left features two ladies playing tennis, at the net; note the short socks and sneakers. And the ladies at the pool have on those long-legged swimsuits that appeared in the 1930s. Don't you love the woman caught mid-dive?

To see more of swimsuit fashion at that time, click below's%20Athletic%20Tank%20Suits

The lower row shows children at play. The ballerina, the boys playing with a sword and running with a balloon, and the little girl has a dog nipping at her dress.

Ray Heaton has translated the tiles, and feels they may be Japanese in origin.

"The bottom row has the characters 逍遙快楽.  The last of these (tile #4) is a Japanese equivalent to the Chinese character 樂, hence my linking the Japanese origin.
The tiles say Xiaoyao Kuaile, "Free and Unfettered, happy and joyful", I'd translate this to "unrestrained joy", (or a bit more strained to "free, unfettered and full of joy").
The top row are 美麗健康, Mei Li Jian Kang:  Mei Li translates to "Beautiful" and Jian Kang translates as "Healthy", so we'd maybe say "Health and Beauty"."


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This Chinese bakelite set is backed with a black wafer. The One Bams are the peacock with two feet planted, and the other Bams are rounded. The One Dot has meanders inside, and the other Dots are floral. And the Craks have the elaborate Wan. The Dragons have the symbols for Prosperity (Green) and Center symbolizing China (Red).