The Circles suit – or, as we call them, the Dots suit – is the original suit of the Mah Jongg tiles; the Bamboo (Bams) and Wan (Craks) suits were added later. The similarity of the circles to coins leads to the belief that the majority of the Circles suit tiles are connected to money or business. Tiles in this suit are numbered from 1- 9 and are described below.
Chinese Character: “Chu”
The first of the Circles suit and represented by the pearl – its Chinese name is “the Moon from the Bottom of the Sea”. Pearls indicate the refinement of a connoisseur and so this tile suggests luxury and wealth.
Chinese Character: “Sung”
Represented by the pine tree and symbolizing the qualities of the tree – firmness and strength – and therefore often linked to a young man. Perhaps a lover, younger brother, or son. It is also linked with writing and drawing (not painting) because the wood of the pine makes the finest charcoal and its soot the finest ink. It can therefore indicate a resolute person who chooses diplomacy rather than violence.
Chinese Character: “Feng”
Symbolized by the phoenix – in Chinese legend the phoenix is a bird that is said to appear only at the beginning of a reign of a benign Emperor, when Earth and Heaven are in harmony. It therefore signifies happiness, joy, and splendor. It is the symbol of the Red Bird of Summer, one of the four great Chinese astrological constellations and is therefore associated with the South Wind.
Chinese Character: “Yü”
Represented by jade – in China it is prized above gold. But jade when taken from the ground is a dull piece of rock; it only acquires value when time, work, and skill have transformed the raw stone to an object worthy of admiration. Jade does not fade, rust, or decay; it is a treasure that survives for all time. Jade therefore represents hard work, but work to a worthy end. It also represents lasting values, long friendships, long life, and a sense of justice.
Chinese Character: “Lung”
Symbolized by the dragon – a symbol of good luck and fortune. It represents sudden and unexpected fortune rather than rewards through diligent efforts. It is therefore associated with gamblers and gaming. 5 Circle can also be symbolized by the Plum Blossom, the first sign of spring and it can represent the hopes for luck and fortune in the newly arrived year.
Chinese Character: “Tao”
Symbolized by the peach, the softness and fragrance of which express the qualities of feminine beauty. It often denotes the influence, appearance, or interference of a young girl who can be a lover, daughter, or younger sister. The peach can also represent extravagance and indolence. And, as we saw from my unforgettable birthday party post, the peach can also represent immortality.
Chinese Character: “Ch’ung”
Represented by the insect, and signifying industrious, because of the behaviour of the insect, for example, the silk worm spinning its thread, the ant building its city and the bees gathering food. The insect is the counterpart of jade (4 Circles). Whereas jade represents sustained effort bringing lasting reward, the insect represents a period of busy activity over a short period, perhaps for no eventual purpose, but the reward can be temporary achievement. The fragility of the insect also represents weakness and therefore can indicate that a situation is not as weighty as first thought.
Chinese Character: “Hu”
Symbolized by the white tiger, and the most masculine of all tiles. It represents authority and bravery, but also aggression. It can mean an officer, a person in uniform, or one’s superiors such as the police or bureaucrats. It can also reveal a father or the elder of two boys. The white tiger is a constellation of Autumn and is therefore associated with the West Wind.
Chinese Character: “Ch’i”
The symbol is the unicorn – in Chinese legend one of the signs that appear in the reign of a good Emperor. The unicorn is regarded as having powers to see into the future, a talent that was passed on to mortals who gazed into pools of water by the light of the unicorn’s burning horn. The significance of the unicorn is therefore the ability to foresee events and can signify the gift of clairvoyance. On a more material level it indicates a natural ability of a person to keep ahead of events or rivals – a sense of being able to judge other people’s characters with uncanny accuracy by seeing through them.
Thanks to The World of Mahjong Webring for these interpretations.