Monthly Archives: December 2015


Recently a friend took a beautiful photo of mahjong tiles "spelling out" 2016, in the NMJL way of play which asks for 2 Flowers, followed by 2 1 and 6 of each suit , allowing the White Dragon to serve as zero. (In The National Mah Jongg League way of play the White Dragon is the zero when "spelling" out the year.) It is a wonderful "hand" showing some of the best tiles in each set.

I thought it would be fun to have readers send in their favorite sets "spelling" this out too. So, if you can, please take photos starting with 2 Flowers, then the Dots, Bams and Craks, and email them in to me.They will be part of the New Year's Mahjong Treasures post. I will not share your identity unless you want me to. If there is a story to the set, I'd love for you to share it with me and I will include it here as well as on the facebook group Mahjong Memories. Please become a member of that group if you like.


The top set is a lovely Chinese bakelite one, with beautiful unusual Flowers, the One Bam hawk over the globe, and the frame White Dragon. The One Bams resemble both golf tees and flat-head screws.

The bottom set is Lung Chan, known for its lovely suite of bird Flowers, two of which are seen here. The tiles are two-tone with a lovely blue on the bottom.




If anyone tells you "Mahjong is for the birds," you might respond "How right you are! Mahjong is and has always been about the birds." The game was named the game of sparrows, because of the noise of the tiles on the table. And, almost from the beginning, designers and carvers knew that beautiful bird One Bams could be the selling point for sets. That is why only the best carvers made the One Bams, and the Flowers. The workshop that produced this bone and bamboo Mahjong set certainly had very skilled carvers. The suits are elaborate, with a somewhat simple flying peacock One Bam.

But oh, these Flowers:


One of my friends is a serious birder, and she helped with some of the bird identifications, although she said that some liberties had been taken with the renderings. But here are what she thinks the birds are:

top row

#3 parrot

#2 heron, ibis or stork


#1 dollar bird or hawk based on flat head and the way it is sitting

Anyone else have any ideas?

There's a new ebook with this title, Mahjong is for the Birds, one that helps people to identify vintage plastic sets and get an understanding about their relative value. You can find it at