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Posts Tagged ‘bakelite mah jongg tiles’

I LOVE to play Mah Jongg!  I always wanted to learn and I have no idea why.  Being the Martha junkie that I am, several years ago there was an article in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living about Mah Jongg sets and I fell in love with the tiles and the idea of owning a set.  Soooo being the true collector that I am, I bought one – PINK tiles of course!  I kept the set for years, sometimes opening it up to admire these mysterious tiles and wonder what they all meant because I surely had no clue.

About 5 or 6 years ago I was at work one day and heard one of the brokers talking about going to play Mah Jongg.  I couldn’t believe my ears and immediately I said to Haley, “oh you play? I want to learn” .  Haley invited me to join her group for an evening and they were kind enough to let a TOTAL novice play along with them, well actually Haley and I played together on one card.  That was my introduction and I was HOOKED!!  I played a few more times with them and brought along another friend, Bobbie who also worked with us and who had played when she was younger.  Talk about a CRAK addiction!  I wanted to form a group. I wanted to play every week.  Haley’s group was a little less formalized, they played when they could all get together.   It just so happens that shortly thereafter I was at my friend Gail’s mothers memorial service and somehow I must have uttered the word Mah Jongg – “Mah Jongg” up pipes Sarajane, one of Gail’s friends and soon to become one of mine – she knew how to play and wanted to play and was eager to form a group too.  Now we were three.  We got Haley to play with us a couple of times but her schedule didn’t allow her to join us on Monday nights.  I contacted my sister-in-law Stacey and asked her if she wanted to be in a weekly group and she did and she knew how to play too.  OH BOY – we had a group and we were ready to roll those dice and clack those tiles.

That was, as I said several years ago, and along the way our group has added and lost a member or two but we remain 5 determined committed women who LOVE to play this ancient game of chance and we play every Monday night which has led to our group’s name of Monday Night Mah Jongg Mavens. Corny but cute.  We had another name that I was partial to and not sure why it got dropped as time went on and that was “This is Not Your Mother’s Mah Jongg”.

And as time went on and my CRAK addiction took hold, it was only natural that I would want to collect some vintage Mah Jongg sets.  No new ones for me – I wanted the real thing, the aged smooth tiles worn by time and love to a smooth silky surface, the paint faded away on some but still retaining their original artistry.  OK, so truth be told I now own  a few, maybe several or some might say many sets. This is not an easy item to collect or display in terms of shelf space!  Nevertheless, I love my sets dearly.  Each one chosen because of its rarity, or the sheer beauty of the tiles themselves, particularly the depth of color of the vintage bakelite or style of the One Bams and the White Dragons (also known as Soaps).

Tonight I’m off to the Museum of Jewish Heritage to see a special Mah Jongg exhibition.  I know it will be more than a few sets on display, perhaps I’ll find out what drew so many American Jewish women to this game.  I’ve attached a link to an article that appeared in they New York Times in March about the game and the upcoming exhibition and a couple of photos of some of my vintage tiles.

Martha Stewart Living, pink mah jong mah jonng tiles

My first set - PINK of course!

mah jongg, mah jong tiles, Four Winds, Soap, one bam

Vintage Four Winds caramel backed Mah Jongg tiles- Soap and One Bam

mah jong, mah jongg tiles, bone and bamboo

Vintage Pung Chow Mah Jongg bone and bamboo tiles

Museums Special Section – Recalling the Craze for a Game of Chance – NYTimes.com.

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