How to Remember The Mahjong Tiles Easily


Wow, mahjong tiles look pretty daunting and confusing!  If you do not bother to remember them, you can buy these sets with indexes on the corners. But if you want to go deeper and have all the benefits and fun we brought up in our earlier video, I can assure you that you will remember all the tiles after watching this video. 

In our earlier video Why 4, we explained that mahjong tiles always come as 4 identical ones. Taking out all the special bonus tiles that vary from place to place, there are 34 units common to all. 

They come in two groups, there are 7 Honour tiles and the remaining are the three suits of the numbered one to nine. To win a game, you need to collect tiles of the same kind. With the number ones, you also arrange them in sequence like the Straight hand of playing cards. We will further explain in future videos. 

To distinguish the two groups, the general rule is those with one big character or graphic are the Honour tiles and those that are more intricate are the numbered ones. 

Sound easy, right? Let's start.

All done? Sorry, there are two odd tiles that do not follow our rule. 

This one with a big circle is actually the Number one of the circle suit. For the remaining ones, counting the circles tells the number of each.

This one got a bird is another odd one out. To your surprise, it is actually the number one of the bamboo suit. Why so strange? I don’t know, maybe it is just like the Spike Ace in the playing cards which got a history related to government tax. The remaining tiles, again, counting the sticks tell the number.

For the character suit, they all got his word which is a unit meaning 10 thousand. The number 1 to 3 is easy, the 4 got a 4 sided rectangle, the fifth got 5 lines, the six is a bit like a dotted triangle with a line in the middle, the seven looks like an upside-down 7, the eight looks like moustache, the nine is the one none of the above. 

Now, let’s look at the Honour tiles, obviously, these four are a set. They mean the East, South West and North. If you watch our Why 4 video, you will understand how they affect the scoring of the game and need to remember them by heart.

The remaining three Honour tiles 中發白are considered the most iconic tiles in a mahjong set. Unlike the wind, you gain bonuses anytime. So, you may not need to differentiate them. But as you watch our video to this point, you are probably someone who wants to know more. Let me explain to you. 

This is the White tile, In Chinese, white could also mean empty. This is why they come as a blank tile or one with an empty frame. 

These two tiles, Western people called them the Red and Green Dragon. Actually, they are two important Chinese words. 

This one called 中 means Central, China in Chinese is 中國 meaning the Central Country. 

This one called 發 means Fortune. It sounds like the number eight, 8. That is why the Chinese consider this a very lucky number. 

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