It’s Mah Jong Monday …
Dragons in Chinese Culture
Not all dragons are equal. Here in the west, we depict dragons as fire-breathing, aggressive beasts that need to be conquered, but eastern cultures see things differently.
“Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it.” Wikipedia
Given their grand position in Chinese culture, it’s no surprise that there are three dragon tiles in the game of Mah Jong.
Dragons in Mah Jong
The three dragon tiles (i.e., red, green and white dragons) are honor tiles. They play important roles in mah jong hands.
Illustration: white, red, and green dragons. In many sets (mine included) the red and green dragons are actual dragons.
- Chinese Character “Pai”
- it represents the mysterious unknown
- a border is drawn around the white to contain it
- Chinese Character “Chung” (see above)
- it means middle or center and the character looks like an arrow hitting a target
- so the larger meaning of this tile is success or achievement
- Chinese Character “Fa” (see above)
- means to commence – the stylized version of the character looks like an arrow being drawn back, ready to release
- to proceed or start
My 2 Cents
Knowing the meaning of the tiles adds another dimension to the game. Call me cheesy, but it makes it more exotic and fun for me.
My Mah Jong
My winning hand this week was Windvane
Windvane: one of each of the winds, and one paired, a pung in each suite. We play it exposed.
Next Monday I’ll look at the other honor tiles (i.e., the winds, ones and nines).
If you found this post interesting, check out the rest of my Mah Jong mini-series.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~ Confucius