Here’s another photo found by the wonderful Toby Salk and this one is quite historic. From The Great Mahjong Book: History, Lore, and Play by Jelte Rep we learn that our beloved game was brought to our shores in 1920 by Joseph P. Babcock, an expat working for Standard Oil while living in Shanghai. Babcock and his wife were great lovers of the mystical Chinese tile game. Here is a bio of Babcock by Jelte Rep:
Although I’ve seen more comfortable seats, here is a picture of an actual Chinese Mah Jongg table and stools sent to us by our dear friend Peggy; the photos were taken during her recent trip to China. This outdoor Mah Jongg table was found in the Grand Mosque in Xian, China. And, while in Shanghai, Peggy was able to watch an actual game in progress.Sounds as if Peggy had a great time on her trip to China – can’t wait to get all the details and hopefully some more photos to share with you.
To read the entire article, go here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/world/asia/china-kaifeng-jews.html
A few days ago I was scrolling around on the Internet and came across this article from 2014 in an online newsletter (ECNS.cn) that was about Mah Jongg “expanding to every corner of the world.” It sounded interesting to me so I started reading and guess what…I am quoted in several places throughout the article…who knew? Totally exciting! I must say that I got a kick out of the statement that Mah Jongg was invented in China “roughly two millennia ago.” Um…instead, how about that the game was invented in China maybe a little over two hundred years ago!!!
I was catching up on Pinterest today which led me to Etsy where I found something very interesting – an opportunity to purchase an original Mahjong game by the Deshler Purchasing Agency of Shanghai from around 1923. This is not a tile set but rather, a very early version of Mah Jongg played with cards. All the regular suits, honors, winds, etc., are part of the game but they are made of paper instead of the material we usually see from sets made in China such as bone and bamboo. I found this particularly interesting because it is the Deshler set that is pictured in my new book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game (always happy to get in a plug for the book!):