Tag Archives: hand carved Chinese Bakelite Mahjong

freersacklersunkehong1532-1610This ink drawing of bamboo growing in a pot, done by Sun Kehong who lived from 1532 until 1610, is in the Freer Sackler Collection.  People in China often had bamboo growing in pots in their homes.


DSC_0697 redone

On the hand carved Chinese Bakelite set we see above, you'll find bamboo in a pot on tile #4  (see, it is not always 3!) on the top row of Flowers.



And above on these hand carved  bone and bamboo tiles, it's back on tile #3.  You will notice a longevity stone next to each pot, a common pairing .



The somewhat genteel pot with bamboo growing can even be seen on these Imperial tiles which were made in France and have a rubber-like backing and plastic tile face. It is felt that red image to the left is probably a stone.


4 Flower Pots copy

And here, on the left, the hand-carved bone and bamboo tiles feature bamboo with a longevity stone yet again.

DSC_0680 other half

These hand carved Flowers are from the Chinese Bakelite Mahjong set discussed March 7th. This set came with 16 Flowers.  The top row is a courtship series, and it is completely delightful. Don't you love the details of the clothing: the high heels she is wearing, the floral arrangement on tile 3 echoing the flowers on her dress, the buttons on the man's jacket and the pleat on the front of the pants' legs? On tile 4 the woman's raised leg, poised in mid-step, adds to the fun. On tile 3 she looks out a curtain, probably expecting her suitor's arrival.

The bottom tiles introduce volleyball to the list of leisure activities we saw yesterday: tennis, swimming, and playing with swords, dogs and balloons. The girl on tile 3 seems about to hit a volleyball serve.

Once again, Ray Heaton has provided an translation.

"Top row are 花好月圓, Hua Hao Yue Yuan and literally means 'lovely flowers, round moon' but is an idiom for 'everything is wonderful' or 'conjugal bliss', the last seems to fit nicely with the tiles.  If you search Google using these characters you also find it described as 'Blooming Flowers, Full Moon'.
Second row are 青春生活, Qing Chun Sheng Huo: Qing Chun together are "Youthful" and Sheng Huo are "Activity" or "Life", so I'd expect these to translate as something along the lines "An Active Youth". "
If you want some fun, you can click here for an excerpt of the song Blooming Flowers Full Moon, or you can even buy a copy for 99 cents.


At first this set resembles most cb sets we have seen, but there is a small difference which adds to its charm.  As you can see on the Bam suit, the bamboos are very close together, made possible by the placement of the numbers beside the bamboo, instead of between the stalks. The One Dot is an abstract meander around a floral interior, and the other Dots have floral interiors. The Craks are the elaborate wan.


You can see the difference between the look of the small set versus the bigger one.



This bird One Bam is quite delightful and somewhat rare.  I have only seen a few like this.


It is part of this set of Chinese Bakelite tiles with green wafer backs. The carving is quite lovely and detailed. These tiles were not meant for export, and Western indices are missing. You will note there are numbers added to some of the tiles (the 5 and 6 Craks seem to have caused some confusion thus "needing" Arabic numbers) and letters and numbers added to the Flower tiles.


The West and South caused problems too!


The set came with this collection of counters and dice, the old and the new.