Mah Jongg is not just a game. It has become a part of my life that allows me to entertain my Mah Jongg-playing friends, cook great meals to serve to them and test my mental skills during our game play (which, hopefully, is often).
The suit that we call “Craks” is also known as “Characters.” Tiles in this suit – just like the Bams and the Dots – are numbered from 1 – 9 and are interpreted below from an Oracle’s point of view.
This is the third and final suit of the three suits (Bamboo – or Bams – and Circles – or Dots – being the others) and is usually known to us as the “signs” suit. Its symbol “Wan” literally means “ten thousand” although it can also be taken to mean any large number or unlimited. The significance of “ten thousand” is taken to mean the entire universe, the entire world, or eternity. The Wan suit therefore represents abstract ideals rather than everyday living.
The Chinese have three different characters to represent “ten thousand”. The classical character that is used represents a scorpion, but since this is a complex character to write, a second abbreviated form is also in use. The third character that is used is the swastika, often used in Buddhist religious texts to represent the “ten thousand things” that symbolize the heart of the Buddha (not quite what it came to represent in Germany’s Third Reich!).
Look at this magnificent set, courtesy of the Mah Jong Museum (owned and operated by the website, Where the Winds Blow and founded by the wonderful Jim May), made and carved in China probably in the early 1920s. The tiles are made of bone and then backed with ebony wood. I love this set not only for its beauty and craftsmanship but also because the tiles represent such incredible sentiments and meanings – you can read the translations for the tiles’ ideographs on the museum’s website.
My favorite translation encompasses the entire set, based on the Buddhist tale, “Heaven girls playing with flowers.” I love this set because of the kind, generous, and happy meanings of the tiles but especially for the magnificent and intricate Flowers. Beautiful carvings filled with beautiful thoughts to take with us into the new year.
Wouldn’t it be a treat to play Mah Jongg with this set? To see other beautiful and rare sets, go to the website for the Mah Jong Museum and have a great time!