A Detailed Guide On All Mahjong Tile Meanings

Although mahjong’s origins (Ma Jiang, ma Jiang) are unknown, this fast-paced, four-player game is extremely popular in Asia. Mahjong can be played as a casual game with family or friends, or as a card games option.

You must be able identify and comprehend each mahjong tiles before you can learn how to play. Each tile set includes 3’simple suits’ (stones characters and bamboos), 2 honor suits (winds & dragons) and 1 optional suit.


You can also call the stones suit wheels, circles, cookies, or cookies. This suit has a circular shape and a range from one to nine different round shapes on each tile’s face.

The Tong (tong) is represented by the round shape. This is a coin that has a square hole in its middle. Each suit has four sets and nine tiles. Each game set contains 36 stone tiles.


Characters, also known by numbers, thousands or coins, is another simple suit. These tiles have the Wan (wan), which is a character that means “10,000” on their surface.

Each tile has a Chinese character that ranges from 1 to 9. To be able put the tiles in numerical order, you will need to know how to read Chinese numbers 1 through 9. Each mahjong set contains 36 characters tiles.


The bamboo simple suit can also be called sticks. These tiles are made up of bamboo sticks that represent the strings (Suo, suo), which were used to string ancient copper coins in sets of 100 (Diao, diao), or 1000 (Guan, guan).

There are 2 to 9 bamboo sticks attached to the tiles. The number one tile doesn’t have a bamboo stick. It has a bird on a bamboo instead. This set of 36 bamboo tiles is also known as ‘bird’.


Flowers can be added to any suit. This set of 8 tiles includes pictures of flowers and a number between 1 and 4. The rules for playing the flower suit vary depending on where you live. You can use the flowers as a wildcard or as a Joker in card games. Additional points can be earned by using flowers to help you earn more.

There are 4 flower tiles in the 8-piece set: winter (Dong Tian & dongtian), spring(Chun Tian & chuntian), summer (2Xia Tian / xiatian) and fall (1Qiu Tian / qiutian).

The 4 remaining flower tiles are the four Confucian plants: bamboo, chrysanthemum, juhua, orchid, Lan Hua, lanhua, and plum (Mei, mei).

Only one set of flower tiles is available.


Wind is one among two honor suits. Each tile features the character for the compass directions: north, Bei, bei, east, Dong, dong, south, Nan, nan, and west (Xi, xi). To recognize and organize the suit, you will need to be able to read the Chinese cardinal direction characters.

Each set contains 4 tiles. Each set contains 16 winds tiles.

Arrows or dragons

Another honor suit is the arrows or dragons. Each set contains 3 tiles. There are 4 sets each of Arrows tiles. The meanings of this threesome are many and come from archery, ancient imperial exams, and Confucius’ cardinal virtues.

One tile has a red Zhong (zhong) center. The Chinese character Hong Zhong (hong Zhong) denotes the passing of the imperial exam. It is also a hit in archery and a Confucian virtue benevolence.

Another tile shows a Fa (fa wealth) green. Fa Cai (fa Cai) is the name of this character. This saying means “get rich”, but it can also be translated as an archer who releases his or her draw, and the Confucian virtues of sincerity.

The last character is a blue Bai (bai-white), which stands for Bai Ban (bai ban). The white board is a symbol of freedom from corruption, miss in archery or Confucian virtue filial piety.

Each mahjong set contains 12 arrows or dragons tiles.

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