Mahjong is “for the Birds” Part 1


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