Mahjong, a four-player domino game first popularized in China during the 1800s and in America from 1920s onwards where it often served as Mother’s Day gifts, originated there before making an impactful transition to America in more recent decades.

This game evolved from an increasingly popular card game toward the end of China’s last dynasty that became widely recognized but also widely condemned for being an indicator of corruption and moral decay.

Mahjong Spiele, оr “mahjong games” іn German, have a rich and fascinating history that dates back tо ancient China.


Mahjong, or mahjong, became an international phenomenon during the 1920s. Played on domino-like tiles engraved with Chinese symbols and characters and divided into suits and honors divisions, yet its full history remains unclear.

Joseph Babcock is often credited with inventing mahjong in America, yet some claim it had already been played for centuries in China long before he arrived here. They provided evidence to back this claim from research conducted in archives and interviews conducted with mahjong players across the nation whose memories range from its initial popularity in 1920s America up until its prominence among communities postwar.


Mahjong sets consist of 152 core tiles and a deck of jokers that allow a player to establish table rules for their placement of tiles, such as not picking up from the discard unless it completes either a pung (3 identical tiles) or kong (4 identical tiles) of an exposed hand; alternatively they may use jokers as replacement tiles when necessary for creating these sets. Game variations of Mahjong share basic game mechanics and scoring systems; however, certain regional Chinese variants offer distinct scoring systems and additional rules.


A standard mahjong set typically comprises 144 game tiles. These tiles form four sets of three suits: bamboos, dots, and characters with Chinese characters from one to nine inscribed on them; there are also two bonus tiles depicting flowers and seasons as well as four dragons that make up one hand winnable by any player.

Wind and dragon sets do not appear in every version of mahjong; Korean mahjong for instance does not feature these sets, while Japanese rules discourage using flowers or seasons as part of the game. There are other variations, however, with more tiles for creating sets or runs; for instance 168 tiles for creating chows and kongs has also been utilized in several variations of this game.


Mahjong gained immense popularity in America due to its sophisticated allure. It joined chop suey, General Tso’s chicken and fortune cookies as familiar symbols of China in American culture. Mahjong’s dubious history — claims that Confucius invented it and lengthy tales dating back hundreds and thousands of years — were likely mostly invented by marketing men to foster American interest in their product.

Social impact

Mahjong may evoke images of ancient mandarins or elderly Chinese women with mustaches playing it, but Stanford PhD candidate Annelise Heinz found that Mahjong played a more significant role in American and Chinese cultures during the 20th century than previously assumed.

Heinz conducted extensive research into mahjong history by consulting Parker Brothers archives and speaking to veteran players. Her discoveries demonstrated how mahjong brought communities together while creating lasting bonds among players themselves.