Vintage Japanese Mahjong Set.
Offered here is a good Quality, full-sized, Vintage Japanese Mahjong set. Cased in a 5-drawer wooden chest adorned with brass corners and handles. The case measures 9-3/8″x6″x6″. The game tiles are Bone and Bamboo, with keyed domed bottoms. The drawers house the tiles which are 40% bone and 60% Bamboo. The tiles measure 1-1/4″ by 8/7″ and are 1/2″ thick. Also included with the set are a booklet on the Rules of Mah Jong, the three miniature boxed dice, counters and other items shown. The Cabinet, tiles and other game pieces are in excellent condition. Circa 1920.
The quality of a typical Mahjongg set can be determined by the ratio of Bone to Bamboo. The thicker the bone layer and the the thicker the tile, the more valuable the set. The image below illustrates the six Qualities found in most traditional Mahjongg sets ranked in order of desirability. The upper row of tiles are thicker, the tiles on the left have the highest ratio of bone to Bamboo. The tiles in this set are thick and fall into the second category.
Mahjong, also spelled Mah Jong, majiang, mah jongg, and numerous other variants, is a game that originated in China. It is commonly played by 4 players (with some 3-player variations found in South Korea and Japan). The game and its regional variants are widely played throughout Eastern and South Eastern Asia and have a small following in Western countries. Similar to the Western card game rummy, Mahjong is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation and involves a degree of chance.
The game is played with a set of 144 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, although some regional variations use a different number of tiles. In most variations, each player begins by receiving 13 tiles. In turn players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand using the 14th drawn tile to form 4 groups (melds) and a pair (head). There are fairly standard rules about how a piece is drawn, how a piece is stolen from another player and thus melded, the use of simples (numbered tiles) and honors (winds and dragons), the kinds of melds, and the order of dealing and play. However, there are many regional variations in the rules; in addition, the scoring system and the minimum hand necessary to win varies significantly based on the local rules being used.
For an excellent treatise on the History of Mahjong and an amazing collection, visit this outstanding site by Allen and Lila Weitz. The information is extremely well researched and presented.