The History Of Mahjong

The popularity of mahjong has vastly developed around the world but it is still uncertain of how the game came about.

One particular story is that the game was created in 500 BC by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. It was said that he went about creating the game from elements in his life and places he had visited. For instance, Confucius was said to name the game mahjong because of his fondness for birds. Experts suggest that this is more likely a myth considering there is no evidence thus far that shows mahjong existed prior to the 19th century.

Another particular theory suggests the game was founded during the Taipeng Rebellion by officers of the Chinese army as a means to pass time. Some other stories suggest it was first created in 1870 by a nobleman in Shanghai and another suggest that it was created earlier in 1850 by two brothers from Ningpo.

But perhaps the most credible of all theories is that it was derived from a Chinese card game called Madiao around the time of the Ming Dynasty. This game consisted of forty paper cards numbered from one to nine in four different suits. This numbering system is very much similar to the structure of mahjong tiles.

In 1949, the game of Mah Jong was banned in china by the goverment because of its association with gambling activitiy which was considered a symbol of capitalist corruption. However, the game was revived after the Cultural Revolution and has since become a favourite pasttime around the world.

In 1895, the game of Mahjong was first written about in a language other than chinese by an American by the name of Stewart Culin. By 1910, there were also several written account in Japanese and French. However, the first time the game made its biggest impact amongst the western culture was in 1920, when an Amercan brand of the game took flight and became popular in New York.

In the late 1920’s, the game was embraced by America and was given several different names such as “The Game of Thousand Intelligence” and “Pung Chow”. Americans began to throw mah jong nights with Chinese decor to simulate the oriental atmosphere. It became such a popular fad that several hit songs were written about it for instance “Since Ma is Playing Mah Jong” by Eddie Cantor.

By the 1930’s, the formation of the National Mah Jongg League came about as means to set a standardization of rules as there were so many variations .This league developed the first official rulebook which was called “Maajh: The American Version of the Ancient Chinese Game”.

In recent times, the popularity of Mah Jong has seen various tournaments hosted in North America with players obtaining official rankings sanctioned by The American Mah Jongg Association. Although the popularity of Mahjong has certainly risen around the world, it is still much more dominant in Asian cultures.

In recent studies, the popular game of mah jong is said to have beneficial effect to those suffering from dementia or those who have difficulty with memory which in turn has resulted in the development of therapy involving mah jong.

What does the future hold for Mahjong? Well its popularity isn’t slowing down any time soon and I suspect that it will reach a much larger worldwide stage with more spectacular tournaments involving people from all cultures.

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