Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Babcock's Mah Jongg Patent

Last response: in Video Games
Share
Anonymous
June 16, 2004 7:01:28 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

For history buffs here is the the Patent number for Babcock's Mah Jong
Application: 1554834 . It is dated Sept. 22, 1925 (which is the updated
version of the Nov. 2 1922 patent).

Goto: http://www.uspto.gov/ and search the patent number. It will have to
be viewed as an image since it was never electronicaly reproduced.

Eric R.
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 1:48:18 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Eric R." <erubl075@uottawa.ca> wrote...
> For history buffs here is the the Patent number for Babcock's Mah Jong
> Application: 1554834 . It is dated Sept. 22, 1925 (which is the updated
> version of the Nov. 2 1922 patent).
>
> Goto: http://www.uspto.gov/ and search the patent number. It will have to
> be viewed as an image since it was never electronicaly reproduced.

That's great info, Eric - unfortunately, several attempts have not yet
resulted in my seeing any images. Maybe too many of us are trying to access
it today or something...
Tom
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 4:24:26 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

I had a problem viewing it originally but I found that installing the Latest
version of Quicktime solved it.

Eric R.
Related resources
Can't find your answer ? Ask !
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 7:38:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Tom Sloper" <tomster@sloperamaNOSPAM.com> wrote in message news:<Ce3Ac.60587$HG.14101@attbi_s53>...
> "Eric R." <erubl075@uottawa.ca> wrote...
> > For history buffs here is the the Patent number for Babcock's Mah Jong
> > Application: 1554834 . It is dated Sept. 22, 1925 (which is the updated
> > version of the Nov. 2 1922 patent).

You mean " Mah-Jongg"! Patent No. 1,554,834 (with commas) is not an
"updated version" of a 1922 patent. In 1922 Babcock simply *filed* his
applications. He had to wait until 1925 to get fully patented.

> > Goto: http://www.uspto.gov/ and search the patent number. It will have to
> > be viewed as an image since it was never electronicaly reproduced.
>
> That's great info, Eric - unfortunately, several attempts have not yet
> resulted in my seeing any images. Maybe too many of us are trying to access
> it today or something...
> Tom

It worked rather well this morning (French time! Americans were all
asleep.) But sometimes the system seems to slow down and even the
"connexion fails". Not surprisingly the site seems to be pretty busy.
Patent "pictures" are viewed with QuickTime. They're not printable or
downloadable (perhaps because it is not a free service?).

The beginning of the patent is interesting:

Patented Sept. 22, 1925 1,554,834
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE

Joseph Park Babcock, of Tsinan [now written Jinan, capital of Shandong
prov.], China, assignor to Mah-Jongg Company of China, of Shanghai,
China, a corporation of Alaska.

Game.
Continuation of application Serial No. 599,107, filed Nov. 4, 1922.
This application filed December 19, 1923. Serial No. 681,584.

To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, Joseph Park Babcock, a citizen of the United
States, residing at Tsinan, China, whose post-office address is
Friendship, New York, have invented an Improvement in Games, of which
the following is a specification.
This invention relates to a game and this application is a
continuation of my co-pending application Serial No. 599,107, filed
Nov. 4, 1922.
(...)
Three of the suits are known as "characters", "bamboo", and "dots" or
"circles" respectively.
(...)
[then "winds" and "dragons" are described, then "seasons" and
"flowers"]

[There are 5 pages: 1 is a drawing of the complete set of tiles (144);
pp. 2-5 are four pages of patent specifications. At the end: "In
testimony whereof, I have signed my name to this specification, this
11th day of December, 1923. / Joseph Park Babcock"]

Cheers,
Thierry
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 2:49:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

In article <5878e597.0406170238.5e366698@posting.google.com>,
Thierry Depaulis <thierry.depaulis@freesbee.fr> wrote:

>It worked rather well this morning (French time! Americans were all
>asleep.) But sometimes the system seems to slow down and even the
>"connexion fails". Not surprisingly the site seems to be pretty busy.
>Patent "pictures" are viewed with QuickTime. They're not printable or
>downloadable (perhaps because it is not a free service?).

No, it's because you use a cruddy computer system! The images are
standard TIFF image files.

I don't have a problem saving images and viewing them with an
image viewer.
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 4:07:53 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

> You mean " Mah-Jongg"! Patent No. 1,554,834 (with commas) is not an
> "updated version" of a 1922 patent. In 1922 Babcock simply *filed* his
> applications. He had to wait until 1925 to get fully patented.

True about the "Mah-Jongg" since it is the proper trademarked name for
Babcock's game, but I generally spell it "Mah Jong" and just placing the
extra G was hard enough for me to do. As for the patent number I did not
use commas so that it could be cut-and-pasted and in all actuallity it
should be written with spaces -- 1 554 834 -- rather than commas since in
some places in the world they use commas the same way English North
Americans (and probably most of the English world) use decimals (e.g. 3.25 =
3,25).

I called this an updated version on the fact that it said "Continuation of
application Serial No. 599,107, filed Nov. 4, 1922." and I had not found the
first application to compare to this one, so it was only an assumption.

> It worked rather well this morning (French time! Americans were all
> asleep.)

More than American were asleep, and there are more than Americans on this
board . . . . eh!


Eric R.
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 8:12:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Julian Bradfield" <jcb@inf.ed.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:cart0l$ddf$1@scotsman.ed.ac.uk...
> In article <5878e597.0406170238.5e366698@posting.google.com>,
> Thierry Depaulis <thierry.depaulis@freesbee.fr> wrote:
>
> >It worked rather well this morning (French time! Americans were all
> >asleep.) But sometimes the system seems to slow down and even the
> >"connexion fails". Not surprisingly the site seems to be pretty busy.
> >Patent "pictures" are viewed with QuickTime. They're not printable or
> >downloadable (perhaps because it is not a free service?).
>
> No, it's because you use a cruddy computer system! The images are
> standard TIFF image files.
>
> I don't have a problem saving images and viewing them with an
> image viewer.

I also can view the images online, save to hard drive and print the images
on papers (the texts are surprisingly clear), by using a TIFF viewer. I
obtained the Tiff Surfer Internet Plug-in (a free evaluation version) by
searching the Internet (try the search string "tiff plug-in").

Thierry has found something to be of interest, here I want to share my view
as well.

From line #83 of page 2 (or image #2) are the descriptions of the "dragon"
tiles. Here's my summary of the image portion and the texts portion of
Babcock's presentation:

Images (page 1 or image #1) & texts (from line #83 of page 2 or image #2) of
Babcock's presentation:
Group 9 - Blank tile - White dragon
Group 10 - the Chinese word "Phoenix" - Red dragon
Group 11 - the Chinese word "Dragon" - Green dragon

It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong (centre or
middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were not
presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?

Since there was actually a tile represented by the Chinese word "DRAGON", I
guess this might be the reason why people outside China got to call those 3
tiles the dragon tiles.

I also found it interesting to see the difference between the Flowers in
modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.

Cheers!

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
Anonymous
June 17, 2004 11:31:42 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Interesting document. I printed it using a TIFF plugin - because
upgrading to the latest Quicktime didn't prove helpful.

I suppose that if Babcock's heirs or legal representatives wanted to
sue set makers, rule creators or even players they would have a case
wouldn't they?

>More than American were asleep, and there are more than Americans on this
>board . . . . eh!

Indeed there are. But I believe Thierry was referring to that time of
the day when Internet bandwidth rises because Americans are starting
to browse it. I don't believe the sole visitors from our newsgroup
would be enough to lag the patents server.

Filipe
Anonymous
June 18, 2004 4:39:45 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Filipe Silva" wrote
> I suppose that if Babcock's heirs or legal representatives wanted to
> sue set makers, rule creators or even players they would have a case
> wouldn't they?

According to "Mah-Jongg Up-To-Date" by Milton C. Work and "Standardized
Mah Jong" by Lee Foster Hartmen the rules are Patented by both Babcock and
John H. Publishing Corp. Now assuming the representatives of either party
kept the Patent active (they must be renewed every 20 years or become public
domain) then they would have legal recourse. BUT, said party would have to
prove that the other rule set was so close to this one to actually make the
case. Therefore NMJl/AMJA, CMCR, WMPA, etc. are in no fear of infringement.

As for suing players for using the rules . . . good luck. Patents only
protects someone from reproducing or using your invention to make monetary
gains. Once the product is out in the public it may be freely used by
anyone. If the rules were copyrighted (which they can't be) then there
would be recourse anytime the rules were used; a current example would be
the P2P MP3 crackdown.

Two Quck notes:

1) I never mentioned that the tiles and their design were Patented
and the patent only states "This invention relates to a Game . . ." and
there is no mention that it pertains to the the game pieces are part of the
Patent. He does describe the pieces though as " . . . a set of game pieces
or tiles with which the game may be played." and goes on to explain their
position in the game and how they are denoted. This is because you can't
Patent. or even Copyright, something that has been already produced and made
public. Mah Jong being an old and well documented game prevents the
standard make of the tiles from being copyrightable (the actual age of the
game can be forever argued). In the case of IMJ they can be because their
design is well enough removed from the standard to afford a Copyright.

2) In the two works sighted there is "Mah-Jongg" [Work] and "Mah
Jong" [Hartman], this is because "Mah-Jongg" and "Mah-Jong" are a Trademarks
of Parker Brothers and Work got premission to use the first. They may no
longer be active; the US reg. number is 156 680 [from Work] but the US
trademark database yeilds nothing. I assume Mah Jong was a public use word
back then as it is now hence no mention to any Trademark in Hartman's book.


I better stop writting before I end up writting a legal document,

Eric R
Anonymous
June 18, 2004 6:29:51 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Eric R." <erubl075@uottawa.ca> wrote in message news:<emjAc.32944$nY.1029231@news20.bellglobal.com>...

> I called this an updated version on the fact that it said "Continuation of
> application Serial No. 599,107, filed Nov. 4, 1922." and I had not found the
> first application to compare to this one, so it was only an assumption.

My interpretation is that Babcock filed a first application on Nov. 4,
1922 but that his submission was refused by the US Patent Office after
examination, probably for lack of originality.
Then, on December 19, 1923, he tried again with "improved"
specifications, and this further application was filed as Serial No.
681,584. Finally, after a two-year examination, the US Patent Office
granted Babcock a patent on Sept. 22, 1925.

Note that the application says it is "an Improvement in Games", not a
fully new invention...

In a message Filipe Silva (laSPAMfey@netMENOTcabo.pt) wrote:

>I suppose that if Babcock's heirs or legal representatives wanted to
>sue set makers, rule creators or even players they would have a case
>wouldn't they?

In a post entitled "Mahjong rules in... 1890" dated 4 Dec. 2002, I
wrote about "a 12-page 'article' by Sir William Henry Wilkinson that
bore the date 1925" and was a 'Memorandum' bearing the copyright of
The Continental Mah-Jongg Sales Co. in Amsterdam.
Quoting myself:
>This memorandum seems to have been asked to Wilkinson in order to
help
>Babcock (or Parker?) protecting their rights on Mah-Jongg against
>someone, most probably in Holland, who denied them.

Cheers.
Thierry
Anonymous
June 18, 2004 10:30:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Filipe Silva wrote:
> Interesting document. I printed it using a TIFF plugin - because
> upgrading to the latest Quicktime didn't prove helpful.

I still haven't been able to get the site to work either, but a couple of
folks have helped by sending me the document. Thanks, Nath and Adrie!

> I suppose that if Babcock's heirs or legal representatives wanted to
> sue set makers, rule creators or even players they would have a case
> wouldn't they?

There are several aspects of American IP law applicable: copyright,
trademark, and patent.

Babcock trademarked the name "Mah-Jongg" in 1920, and later licensed or sold
the trademark to Parker Bros.

The words in Babcock's red rule book are his copyright. Anyone can state the
rules of the game in other words, without infringing Babcock's copyright.

The patent is another matter. Babcock's patent on the game was granted in
1925, the year after everybody and his dog had already published a book
describing the game (sometimes with minor variations, and usually saying
they'd gone to China to research the rules). Interest in the game was likely
dying down by then (the "craze" having started to wane), by the way (just to
put things in context).

Those authors probably didn't violate his patent by writing books - they
didn't violate his copyright since they used their own words - and they very
carefully avoided using his trademarked name, "mah-jongg."

Players don't violate a trademark by using a patented process or invention
without payment going to the patent owner.

Manufacturers had already started making sets and tiles in the U.S. (or for
export to the U.S.) well before Babcock's patent application was filed. His
patent was mainly for the process (the gameplay).

And if you look carefully, you'll see that the patent continuation mainly
focuses on the use of flowers (assuredly left out of Babcock's original
patent application, and added in later, as was done with later editions of
his rule book, due to public demand after all the other authors described
how to use flowers).

Cheers,
Tom
Anonymous
June 18, 2004 11:57:56 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Tom Sloper" <tomster@sloperamaNOSPAM.com> wrote in message news:<MZvAc.108974$3x.29492@attbi_s54>...

> Babcock trademarked the name "Mah-Jongg" in 1920, and later licensed or sold
> the trademark to Parker Bros.

The only US trademark I was able to find is dated... April, 1923. At
the same time it seems Babcock filed his "Mah-Jongg" trademark in
other countries. For example, it was trademarked in France in January,
1923 (on behalf of Mah-Jongg Company of China, Shanghai).

Do you have a US trademark number for 1920? (The 1923 TM doesn't refer
to any previous one.)

Cheers,
Thierry
Anonymous
June 18, 2004 9:59:22 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Thierry Depaulis <thierry.depaulis@freesbee.fr> wrote...

> The only US trademark I was able to find is dated... April, 1923. At
> the same time it seems Babcock filed his "Mah-Jongg" trademark in
> other countries. For example, it was trademarked in France in January,
> 1923 (on behalf of Mah-Jongg Company of China, Shanghai).
>
> Do you have a US trademark number for 1920? (The 1923 TM doesn't refer
> to any previous one.)

Sorry, my saying that Babcock trademarked the game in 1920 was inexact. In
American trademark law, a company name, product name, or logo is, in fact, a
"trademark," whether or not it's registered. It may be a requirement that a
trademark be in use for a period of time before it can be registered (only
when it's registered can it be assigned a number). Today, the symbol "TM" is
used for a trademark that hasn't yet been accepted into registration, and
the circle-R symbol is used for a registered trademark. Maybe that symbolism
wasn't standard yet in the 1920s, I don't know for certain.

I haven't done a thorough check of Babcock items for the printed term
"trademark" just yet (it would require locating and opening a number of
boxes to find them all). But in a cursory check, I see that the earliest
occurrence I find of the word being used is on a Parker Bros. mah-jongg
cards set, dated 1923.

Tom
Anonymous
June 21, 2004 2:14:06 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Tom Sloper" <tomster@sloperamaNOSPAM.com> wrote in message news:<_3GAc.51163$Hg2.22402@attbi_s04>...

> Sorry, my saying that Babcock trademarked the game in 1920 was inexact. In
> American trademark law, a company name, product name, or logo is, in fact, a
> "trademark," whether or not it's registered. It may be a requirement that a
> trademark be in use for a period of time before it can be registered (only
> when it's registered can it be assigned a number). Today, the symbol "TM" is
> used for a trademark that hasn't yet been accepted into registration, and
> the circle-R symbol is used for a registered trademark. Maybe that symbolism
> wasn't standard yet in the 1920s, I don't know for certain.
>
> I haven't done a thorough check of Babcock items for the printed term
> "trademark" just yet (it would require locating and opening a number of
> boxes to find them all). But in a cursory check, I see that the earliest
> occurrence I find of the word being used is on a Parker Bros. mah-jongg
> cards set, dated 1923.

Thanks for this interesting comment, Tom.

A quick look at the US Patent Office's Official Gazette (of which a
complete run is stored at the French Patent Office, just around the
corner) yielded this:

(US Patent Office, Official Gazette, July 22, 1924)
[Trade-mark] Ser. No. 176,488 (CLASS 22. GAMES, TOYS AND SPORTING
GOODS.)
The Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, San Francisco, Calif. Filed
Feb. 23, 1923.
MAH-JONGG
Particular description of goods.—Games played with pieces somewhat
similar to dominoes.
Claims use since on or about Oct. 26, 1920.

Although filed quite lately (Feb. 23, 1923) there are indeed claims of
use since "on or about Oct. 26, 1920".

See my second post with some more gleanings from the US Official
Gazette.
They might help dating old MJ sets.

Cheers,
Thierry
Anonymous
June 22, 2004 1:19:59 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Thierry Depaulis" <thierry.depaulis@freesbee.fr> wrote
>
> A quick look at the US Patent Office's Official Gazette (of which a
> complete run is stored at the French Patent Office, just around the
> corner) yielded this:
>
> (US Patent Office, Official Gazette, July 22, 1924)
> [Trade-mark] Ser. No. 176,488 (CLASS 22. GAMES, TOYS AND SPORTING
> GOODS.)
> The Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, San Francisco, Calif. Filed
> Feb. 23, 1923.
> MAH-JONGG
> Particular description of goods.-Games played with pieces somewhat
> similar to dominoes.
> Claims use since on or about Oct. 26, 1920.
>
> Although filed quite lately (Feb. 23, 1923) there are indeed claims of
> use since "on or about Oct. 26, 1920".
>
> See my second post with some more gleanings from the US Official
> Gazette.
> They might help dating old MJ sets.


Wow, great stuff, Thierry!
Merci beaucoups.
Tom
Anonymous
June 23, 2004 5:45:49 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Tom Sloper" <tomster@sloperamaNOSPAM.com> wrote in message news:<2iIBc.90574$0y.23431@attbi_s03>...

> Wow, great stuff, Thierry!
> Merci beaucoups.
> Tom

Your humble servant, Master Tom!

But an interesting trademark was yet to be discovered:

US Patent Office, Official Gazette, Feb. 14, 1922
[Trade-mark] Ser. No. 154,510
Albert R. Hager, Salt Lake City, Utah. Filed Oct. 24, 1921.
Mah-Jongg
ma / que
The Japanese [sic!] characters appearing on the drawing mean, in
English, "sparrows".
Particular description of goods.—A Game played with pieces somewhat
similar to dominoes.
Claims use since on or about the 26th day of October, 1920.

My comment.
Albert R. Hager was one of Babcock's partners in Mah-Jongg Sales
Company of America. Obviously he was first to file the Mah-Jongg
trademark with the two classic sinograms. It is exactly the logo that
appears on the cover of the 1st edition of Babcock's little red book
as shown on: http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11.htm
> scroll down to:
* 1920: [U.S.A.] Joseph Park Babcock wrote his simplified "Rules for
Mah-Jongg"

You can also view it at:
http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/mjsca1.htm
where you can see both logos, Babcock's and Hager's!
The line below reads (of course): REG. U.S. PAT. OFF.
(since it is attached to Hager's logo and not to Babcock's I guess
this catalogue came out before Babcock was granted his new logo, that
is before 22 July 1924. (Hager had been granted his trademark on 14
Feb. *1922*.)

Interesting to know that Hager claimed to have been using the
Mah-Jongg trademark "since on or about the 26th day of October, 1920",
i.e. exactly the same day as Babcock's for his own Mah-Jongg
trademark.

Albert R. Hager got also two early patents:
- one for MJ scoring sticks (No. 1,450,852, filed September 25, 1922;
pub. May 3, 1923)
- one for an elegant MJ cabinet (No. 1,477,056. filed May 25, 1922;
pub. Dec. 11, 1923)

So it seems Mah-Jongg owes a lot to Albert R. Hager!

Cheers,
Thierry
Anonymous
June 23, 2004 6:47:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<0qjAc.785750$oR5.116118@pd7tw3no>...
[snip]
> From line #83 of page 2 (or image #2) are the descriptions of the "dragon"
> tiles. Here's my summary of the image portion and the texts portion of
> Babcock's presentation:
>
> Images (page 1 or image #1) & texts (from line #83 of page 2 or image #2) of
> Babcock's presentation:
> Group 9 - Blank tile - White dragon
> Group 10 - the Chinese word "Phoenix" - Red dragon
> Group 11 - the Chinese word "Dragon" - Green dragon
>
> It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong (centre or
> middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were not
> presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?

Hello Cofa.
From the documented/dated tile set from the British Museum(the
Wilkinson set) we can see that Zhong, Fa and Bai were present back in
1889. Indeed, they are also present in the Culin set of 1909.

From the evidence I have seen(from my own collection and the
collection of the Japanese MJ Museum as represented in their book), it
is my opinion that the 'Phoenix' and 'Dragon' sinograms were a later
development - between 1889 and 1909(the date of the BMA Culin set).

> Since there was actually a tile represented by the Chinese word "DRAGON", I
> guess this might be the reason why people outside China got to call those 3
> tiles the dragon tiles.

That is probable.

> I also found it interesting to see the difference between the Flowers in
> modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.

I don't know when your 'modern MJ' starts from. If I assume it was
circa 1920, then you can see an actual 'Original MJ Sales Company of
America' set, with just those "Seasons", at Jim May's site. Jim has
labelled it as "circa 1923". It is under 'Unique Sets' and is # 228.

Cheers
Michael
Anonymous
June 25, 2004 7:16:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406231347.3da226d1@posting.google.com...
> "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:<0qjAc.785750$oR5.116118@pd7tw3no>...
> [snip]
> > From line #83 of page 2 (or image #2) are the descriptions of the
"dragon"
> > tiles. Here's my summary of the image portion and the texts portion of
> > Babcock's presentation:
> >
> > Images (page 1 or image #1) & texts (from line #83 of page 2 or image
#2) of
> > Babcock's presentation:
> > Group 9 - Blank tile - White dragon
> > Group 10 - the Chinese word "Phoenix" - Red dragon
> > Group 11 - the Chinese word "Dragon" - Green dragon
> >
> > It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong
(centre or
> > middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were not
> > presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?
>
> Hello Cofa.
> From the documented/dated tile set from the British Museum(the
> Wilkinson set) we can see that Zhong, Fa and Bai were present back in
> 1889. Indeed, they are also present in the Culin set of 1909.

Thanks Michael for the info. This makes better sense why group of these
three pieces is called San Yuan (Three Scholars).

[snip]
>
> > I also found it interesting to see the difference between the Flowers in
> > modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.
>
> I don't know when your 'modern MJ' starts from. If I assume it was
> circa 1920, then you can see an actual 'Original MJ Sales Company of
> America' set, with just those "Seasons", at Jim May's site. Jim has
> labelled it as "circa 1923". It is under 'Unique Sets' and is # 228.

My "modern" is not as precisely defined as yours ^_^ My modern MJ means
those you can find on the open market today. But this brings up some other
questions: Should we call those pieces "Seasons" rather than "Flowers"? In
Chinese terminology, as far as I am aware of, we use the term Flowers only
(Blue or Red Flowers), no Seasons - Why is this obvious difference? If
"Seasons" only were present in those earliest documented sets, then why the
term "Flowers" is also used (both in Babcock's application and in today's
use)?

Cheers!

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
Anonymous
June 26, 2004 7:28:21 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<AlXCc.888956$oR5.823672@pd7tw3no>...
> > > It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong
> (centre or
> > > middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were not
> > > presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?
> >
> > Hello Cofa.
> > From the documented/dated tile set from the British Museum(the
> > Wilkinson set) we can see that Zhong, Fa and Bai were present back in
> > 1889. Indeed, they are also present in the Culin set of 1909.
>
> Thanks Michael for the info. This makes better sense why group of these
> three pieces is called San Yuan (Three Scholars).

Hello Cofa. Can you tell me why you think the group Zhong, Fa and Bai
is called San Yuan (Three Scholars)?

> > > I also found it interesting to see the difference between the Flowers in
> > > modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.
> >
> > I don't know when your 'modern MJ' starts from. If I assume it was
> > circa 1920, then you can see an actual 'Original MJ Sales Company of
> > America' set, with just those "Seasons", at Jim May's site. Jim has
> > labelled it as "circa 1923". It is under 'Unique Sets' and is # 228.
>
> My "modern" is not as precisely defined as yours ^_^ My modern MJ means
> those you can find on the open market today. But this brings up some other
> questions: Should we call those pieces "Seasons" rather than "Flowers"? In
> Chinese terminology, as far as I am aware of, we use the term Flowers only
> (Blue or Red Flowers), no Seasons - Why is this obvious difference? If
> "Seasons" only were present in those earliest documented sets, then why the
> term "Flowers" is also used (both in Babcock's application and in today's
> use)?

These are interesting questions. If you read Babcock's patent
application you will see that he calls *both* quartets by one name,
either 'Seasons' OR 'Flowers' OR 'Flower Gardens' OR 'Goofs'. His
'Babcock's Rules for MAH-JONGG' also calls BOTH quartets 'Seasons'.

In later editions it became 'Seasons' AND 'Flowers'. So 'or' was
replaced by the word 'and' it seems.

The very earliest sets we have any documentation for - the 2 Glover
sets and the Himly set(all dating from approx. 1875) - have 4 tiles
that each have one large sinogram representing one of the 4 Seasons(I
am assuming the Himly set had the same as the Glover sets as we only
have Himly's description of the name of the tiles).

Indeed, I own a set that dates from sometime in the period 1890 - 1909
that has these 4 tiles with the large sinograms. Culin's set of 1909
has the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum tiles which,
according to Eberhard(1986) symbolise 'The Four Noble Plants'. Culin's
set also has the group Chessboard, Lute, Book and Painting which
symbolise 'The Four Arts of the Scholar'(who is one of 'The Four
Callings'), according to Eberhard(1986).

But this does not explain where the term 'Flowers' or 'Flower Gardens'
came from. However, Culin did mention a game called, in Cantonese, wak
fa(waak6 faa1)- 'To Draw Flowers' - and in Mandarin hua4 hua1. Thierry
mentioned to me that the meaning is to 'design', that is, to 'combine
flowers' and this may have represented a 'non-gambling' form of the
'sparrow' game. But I mention all of this in my 2 part article in The
Playing-card. Have you read it?

However, I also have another early set that I calculate dates from
between 1901 and 1909. This has 'The Four Noble Plants' plus four
other tiles which have various designs on them which are not relevant
here. It is possible that if these four plant tiles were present in
tile sets at the beginning of the 20th century, then they *may have*
become known by Westerners in China as 'Flowers' since they
superficially bare a resemblance to Flowers. This is another tentative
explanation.

Maybe someone else has another explanation?

Cheers
Michael
Anonymous
June 27, 2004 11:09:16 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406261428.79c4ce3e@posting.google.com...
> "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:<AlXCc.888956$oR5.823672@pd7tw3no>...
> > > > It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong
> > (centre or
> > > > middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were
not
> > > > presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?
> > >
> > > Hello Cofa.
> > > From the documented/dated tile set from the British Museum(the
> > > Wilkinson set) we can see that Zhong, Fa and Bai were present back in
> > > 1889. Indeed, they are also present in the Culin set of 1909.
> >
> > Thanks Michael for the info. This makes better sense why group of these
> > three pieces is called San Yuan (Three Scholars).
>
> Hello Cofa. Can you tell me why you think the group Zhong, Fa and Bai
> is called San Yuan (Three Scholars)?

It is not that I think they should, I read from books about mahjong that say
so. Most books (in Chinese) I read call these pieces San Yuan (Three
Scholars). (See also "History of Mahjong" at
http://www.mjclub.com/Resource/History/ - a site in simplified Chinese.) The
CMCR (published in 1998) calls them "Jian Pai" (Arrow Pais), which is the
only difference I know of.

The term "Yuan" in historical China means those who have passed the
emporer's exam and being assigned the Chief Official in a regional
jurisdiction. It is a very high honour that means much more than just a
scholar. On the other hand, I do think calling these pieces San Yuan makes
better sense because the meanings of Zhong, Fa and Bai are relevant to the
meaning of Yuan.

>
> > > > I also found it interesting to see the difference between the
Flowers in
> > > > modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.
> > >
> > > I don't know when your 'modern MJ' starts from. If I assume it was
> > > circa 1920, then you can see an actual 'Original MJ Sales Company of
> > > America' set, with just those "Seasons", at Jim May's site. Jim has
> > > labelled it as "circa 1923". It is under 'Unique Sets' and is # 228.
> >
> > My "modern" is not as precisely defined as yours ^_^ My modern MJ means
> > those you can find on the open market today. But this brings up some
other
> > questions: Should we call those pieces "Seasons" rather than "Flowers"?
In
> > Chinese terminology, as far as I am aware of, we use the term Flowers
only
> > (Blue or Red Flowers), no Seasons - Why is this obvious difference? If
> > "Seasons" only were present in those earliest documented sets, then why
the
> > term "Flowers" is also used (both in Babcock's application and in
today's
> > use)?
>
> These are interesting questions. If you read Babcock's patent
> application you will see that he calls *both* quartets by one name,
> either 'Seasons' OR 'Flowers' OR 'Flower Gardens' OR 'Goofs'. His
> 'Babcock's Rules for MAH-JONGG' also calls BOTH quartets 'Seasons'.
>
> In later editions it became 'Seasons' AND 'Flowers'. So 'or' was
> replaced by the word 'and' it seems.
>
> The very earliest sets we have any documentation for - the 2 Glover
> sets and the Himly set(all dating from approx. 1875) - have 4 tiles
> that each have one large sinogram representing one of the 4 Seasons(I
> am assuming the Himly set had the same as the Glover sets as we only
> have Himly's description of the name of the tiles).
>
> Indeed, I own a set that dates from sometime in the period 1890 - 1909
> that has these 4 tiles with the large sinograms. Culin's set of 1909
> has the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum tiles which,
> according to Eberhard(1986) symbolise 'The Four Noble Plants'. Culin's
> set also has the group Chessboard, Lute, Book and Painting which
> symbolise 'The Four Arts of the Scholar'(who is one of 'The Four
> Callings'), according to Eberhard(1986).
>
> But this does not explain where the term 'Flowers' or 'Flower Gardens'
> came from. However, Culin did mention a game called, in Cantonese, wak
> fa(waak6 faa1)- 'To Draw Flowers' - and in Mandarin hua4 hua1. Thierry
> mentioned to me that the meaning is to 'design', that is, to 'combine
> flowers' and this may have represented a 'non-gambling' form of the
> 'sparrow' game. But I mention all of this in my 2 part article in The
> Playing-card. Have you read it?
>
> However, I also have another early set that I calculate dates from
> between 1901 and 1909. This has 'The Four Noble Plants' plus four
> other tiles which have various designs on them which are not relevant
> here. It is possible that if these four plant tiles were present in
> tile sets at the beginning of the 20th century, then they *may have*
> become known by Westerners in China as 'Flowers' since they
> superficially bare a resemblance to Flowers. This is another tentative
> explanation.
>
> Maybe someone else has another explanation?

Thanks for sharing the results of your research, Michael.

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
Anonymous
June 27, 2004 4:12:37 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<wouDc.912673$Ig.183997@pd7tw2no>...
> The term "Yuan" in historical China means those who have passed the
> emporer's exam and being assigned the Chief Official in a regional
> jurisdiction. It is a very high honour that means much more than just a
> scholar. On the other hand, I do think calling these pieces San Yuan makes
> better sense because the meanings of Zhong, Fa and Bai are relevant to the
> meaning of Yuan.

Hello Cofa. Can you tell me why you think the meanings of Zhong, Fa
and bai are relevant to the meaning of Yuan?

Cheers
Michael
Anonymous
June 28, 2004 12:54:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406271112.41d97404@posting.google.com...
> "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:<wouDc.912673$Ig.183997@pd7tw2no>...
> > The term "Yuan" in historical China means those who have passed the
> > emporer's exam and being assigned the Chief Official in a regional
> > jurisdiction. It is a very high honour that means much more than just a
> > scholar. On the other hand, I do think calling these pieces San Yuan
makes
> > better sense because the meanings of Zhong, Fa and Bai are relevant to
the
> > meaning of Yuan.
>
> Hello Cofa. Can you tell me why you think the meanings of Zhong, Fa
> and bai are relevant to the meaning of Yuan?

Yes, but then you need to know the meanings of these words first:

Yuan means zhuang yuan, the scholar who was the best at the imperial
examination and got the assignment as a regional chief official.

Zhong means zhong ju (got it, achieved the goal, or in more details: passed
the exam and got the assignment as chief official).

Fa means fa cai (becoming rich, fortune, etc.).

Bai means qing bai ("clear white", pure, innocent, honest, etc.).

The latter three are features or elements the people would expect from their
officials in the old days. So I guess they are relevant. What do you think?

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
Anonymous
June 28, 2004 10:13:32 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<UtGDc.879169$Pk3.764575@pd7tw1no>...
[snip]
> The latter three are features or elements the people would expect from their
> officials in the old days. So I guess they are relevant. What do you think?

Hello Cofa. Please forgive any errors as I am knocking this out in a
hurry before I go to work).Many thanks for this information. I must
admit I have not heard of this explanation, so it is of interest to
me.

There is another interesting explanation, put forward by Ly Yu Sang in
his book titled 'Sparrow: the Chinese game called Ma-Ch'iau'(1923). In
chapter 2, titled 'The Origin and Philosophy' (which appears in
Millington, nearly word for word), he proposes that "...Po, Fa, Chung,
[correspond] to Heaven, Earth and Man, or Wan Wu, in the Canon of
Changes." This may have some credence as there is a set in the
Japanese MJ Museum book that has the quadruplicated tiles - with
Tien(Heaven), Ti(Earth) and Ren(Man) on them - instead of the
quadruplicated Zhong, Fa Bai.

However, I do not think this is an exclusive explanation for these
three tiles.

Cheers
Michael
Anonymous
June 28, 2004 5:54:13 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

In article <52f8c9c6.0406280513.563974f4@posting.google.com>,
Michael Stanwick <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote:

>There is another interesting explanation, put forward by Ly Yu Sang in
>his book titled 'Sparrow: the Chinese game called Ma-Ch'iau'(1923). In
>chapter 2, titled 'The Origin and Philosophy' (which appears in
>Millington, nearly word for word), he proposes that "...Po, Fa, Chung,

Interesting. How much else did Millington take from that book?
(And incidentally, does anybody know when Sang died?)
Anonymous
June 28, 2004 6:15:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

jcb@inf.ed.ac.uk (Julian Bradfield) wrote in message news:<cbp7u5$jn5$1@scotsman.ed.ac.uk>...
> In article <52f8c9c6.0406280513.563974f4@posting.google.com>,
> Michael Stanwick <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote:
>
> >There is another interesting explanation, put forward by Ly Yu Sang in
> >his book titled 'Sparrow: the Chinese game called Ma-Ch'iau'(1923). In
> >chapter 2, titled 'The Origin and Philosophy' (which appears in
> >Millington, nearly word for word), he proposes that "...Po, Fa, Chung,
>
> Interesting. How much else did Millington take from that book?
> (And incidentally, does anybody know when Sang died?)

I shall amplify my comment in pararentheses above. A glance at
Millington's references will show that he used Li Yu Sang's book in
some capacity. He seems to have paraphrased certain paragraphs and
virtually(changing a word or two) quoted certain paragraphs - but
without quotation marks! Here are some correspondences that illustrate
my point.

P 93 of Millington corresponds to paragraphs(this applies from here
on) on pages 11 and 12 of Sang. Millington pge 94 corresponds to Sang
pges 12 and 13. Millington pge 95 corresponds to Sang pges 13, 14 and
12, in that order. Pge 96 correspoinds to pges 13 and 14. Pge 98 to
pges 14, 15 and 16. Pge 99 has a direct quote lifted from Sang pge 16.

The following chapter in Millington - titled 'The History of
MAH-JONGG' - also has some delicious Sang. Millington P106 contains
much paraphrasing and pge 110 corresponds, in the main, to Sang's page
20.

Of course, Millington contains much useful information and I credit
Sang with providing me with another very interesting hypothesis to set
against various tiles in the Glover sets.

Unfortunately I do not know when Sang died.

Cheers
Michael Stanwick
Anonymous
June 29, 2004 12:47:15 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Michael,
There's a limit hand known as the Three Great Scholars and it involves pungs
with Zhong, Fa and Bai Ban. It's a special hand because you only need the
three pungs and don't need to complete the rest of the hand.

Incidentally, I have some dice carved in Singapore in the 1960's or 70's.
These have symbols of Singapore political parties at the time on 3 sides,
and the other 3 sides are Mahjong tiles with the characters for Fa (in
green, just as the contemporary Fa), Fu (in red, meaning prosperity), and
the Chinese character for Bai [and not the contemporary symbol] (in green
but meant to represent white because the die itself is white). I don't know
what the significance of it is, but thought you might be interested.

Regards,
Keng Ho

"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406261428.79c4ce3e@posting.google.com...
> "Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:<AlXCc.888956$oR5.823672@pd7tw3no>...
> > > > It is interesting to know that the images used today, i.e., Zhong
> > (centre or
> > > > middle, in red), Fa (fortune, in green), Bai (white, in white) were
not
> > > > presented. Perhaps these were not yet developed at that time?
> > >
> > > Hello Cofa.
> > > From the documented/dated tile set from the British Museum(the
> > > Wilkinson set) we can see that Zhong, Fa and Bai were present back in
> > > 1889. Indeed, they are also present in the Culin set of 1909.
> >
> > Thanks Michael for the info. This makes better sense why group of these
> > three pieces is called San Yuan (Three Scholars).
>
> Hello Cofa. Can you tell me why you think the group Zhong, Fa and Bai
> is called San Yuan (Three Scholars)?
>
> > > > I also found it interesting to see the difference between the
Flowers in
> > > > modern mahjong and those "Seasons" in Babcock's presentation.
> > >
> > > I don't know when your 'modern MJ' starts from. If I assume it was
> > > circa 1920, then you can see an actual 'Original MJ Sales Company of
> > > America' set, with just those "Seasons", at Jim May's site. Jim has
> > > labelled it as "circa 1923". It is under 'Unique Sets' and is # 228.
> >
> > My "modern" is not as precisely defined as yours ^_^ My modern MJ means
> > those you can find on the open market today. But this brings up some
other
> > questions: Should we call those pieces "Seasons" rather than "Flowers"?
In
> > Chinese terminology, as far as I am aware of, we use the term Flowers
only
> > (Blue or Red Flowers), no Seasons - Why is this obvious difference? If
> > "Seasons" only were present in those earliest documented sets, then why
the
> > term "Flowers" is also used (both in Babcock's application and in
today's
> > use)?
>
> These are interesting questions. If you read Babcock's patent
> application you will see that he calls *both* quartets by one name,
> either 'Seasons' OR 'Flowers' OR 'Flower Gardens' OR 'Goofs'. His
> 'Babcock's Rules for MAH-JONGG' also calls BOTH quartets 'Seasons'.
>
> In later editions it became 'Seasons' AND 'Flowers'. So 'or' was
> replaced by the word 'and' it seems.
>
> The very earliest sets we have any documentation for - the 2 Glover
> sets and the Himly set(all dating from approx. 1875) - have 4 tiles
> that each have one large sinogram representing one of the 4 Seasons(I
> am assuming the Himly set had the same as the Glover sets as we only
> have Himly's description of the name of the tiles).
>
> Indeed, I own a set that dates from sometime in the period 1890 - 1909
> that has these 4 tiles with the large sinograms. Culin's set of 1909
> has the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum tiles which,
> according to Eberhard(1986) symbolise 'The Four Noble Plants'. Culin's
> set also has the group Chessboard, Lute, Book and Painting which
> symbolise 'The Four Arts of the Scholar'(who is one of 'The Four
> Callings'), according to Eberhard(1986).
>
> But this does not explain where the term 'Flowers' or 'Flower Gardens'
> came from. However, Culin did mention a game called, in Cantonese, wak
> fa(waak6 faa1)- 'To Draw Flowers' - and in Mandarin hua4 hua1. Thierry
> mentioned to me that the meaning is to 'design', that is, to 'combine
> flowers' and this may have represented a 'non-gambling' form of the
> 'sparrow' game. But I mention all of this in my 2 part article in The
> Playing-card. Have you read it?
>
> However, I also have another early set that I calculate dates from
> between 1901 and 1909. This has 'The Four Noble Plants' plus four
> other tiles which have various designs on them which are not relevant
> here. It is possible that if these four plant tiles were present in
> tile sets at the beginning of the 20th century, then they *may have*
> become known by Westerners in China as 'Flowers' since they
> superficially bare a resemblance to Flowers. This is another tentative
> explanation.
>
> Maybe someone else has another explanation?
>
> Cheers
> Michael
Anonymous
June 29, 2004 12:47:16 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Pwee Keng Ho" <kengho@singmail.com> wrote in message news:<cbqca8$cqd$1@reader01.singnet.com.sg>...
> Michael,
> There's a limit hand known as the Three Great Scholars and it involves pungs
> with Zhong, Fa and Bai Ban. It's a special hand because you only need the
> three pungs and don't need to complete the rest of the hand.
>
> Incidentally, I have some dice carved in Singapore in the 1960's or 70's.
> These have symbols of Singapore political parties at the time on 3 sides,
> and the other 3 sides are Mahjong tiles with the characters for Fa (in
> green, just as the contemporary Fa), Fu (in red, meaning prosperity), and
> the Chinese character for Bai [and not the contemporary symbol] (in green
> but meant to represent white because the die itself is white). I don't know
> what the significance of it is, but thought you might be interested.
>
> Regards,
> Keng Ho

Hello Keng Ho. Thanks very much for this extra information. Do you
know the names of these Three great Scholars?

Incidentally, here is another explanation that I think might be
relevant. This hypothesis is rather tenuous as it relies heavily on
colour correspondence, although one of the various meanings of each of
the sinograms of Zhong, Fa and Bai might also apply.

I wondered whether the three tiles of red Zhong, green Fa and,
obviously, white Bai refer to the 'three gods of good fortune' as
described in Eberhard(1986). To quote; "...the one who confers high
office and riches wears a red robe; the one beside him, dressed in
green, blesses a family with children, while a third, who gives long
life, is dressed in yellow or white."

If only we had some documentation against which we may test these
expalantions.

Cheers
Michael
June 29, 2004 12:47:16 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Pwee Keng Ho" <kengho@singmail.com> wrote in message news:<cbqca8$cqd$1@reader01.singnet.com.sg>...
> There's a limit hand known as the Three Great Scholars and it involves pungs
> with Zhong, Fa and Bai Ban. It's a special hand because you only need the
> three pungs and don't need to complete the rest of the hand.

This is interesting. Are you sure it is an instant win upon the pung
of the third "dragon" tile? I always thought that you still need to
complete the hand to win. Can anyone else contribute some information
on this, regardless of the rules being used (but it will be nice if
you mention what rules you play by and how the "Big Three Scholars" is
treated). Thank you.

> "Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
> news:52f8c9c6.0406261428.79c4ce3e@posting.google.com...
> > Indeed, I own a set that dates from sometime in the period 1890 - 1909
> > that has these 4 tiles with the large sinograms. Culin's set of 1909
> > has the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum tiles which,
> > according to Eberhard(1986) symbolise 'The Four Noble Plants'. Culin's
> > set also has the group Chessboard, Lute, Book and Painting which
> > symbolise 'The Four Arts of the Scholar'(who is one of 'The Four
> > Callings'), according to Eberhard(1986).
> >
> > But this does not explain where the term 'Flowers' or 'Flower Gardens'
> > came from.

But it does explain where the term "Flowers" come from. The four
flower tiles: Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo (in that order)
are collectively called the flowers. Actually, any grouping of four
"things" in a common Chinese saying can be used. There is an implied
ordering to the four symbols, and this implied ordering gives the
tiles their association with the seat. The "Four Arts" should be in
the order: Zither, Chess, Poetry, and Painting. And of course, the
"Seasons" are in the order: Spring, Summer, Autum, and Winter. The
Chinese call these the "Flower" tiles as a short-hand to include all
such tiles.
Anonymous
June 30, 2004 1:57:06 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

Nope, don't know who these reputed scholars are.
Never heard of 'three gods of good fortune'. The gods most often encountered
as a trio would be Fu, Lu and Shou, gods of good fortune/prosperity,
happiness/affluence and longevity, respectively. However, I didn't think
they were each particularly associated with any specific colour.
Regards,
Keng Ho


"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406290436.4d35c158@posting.google.com...
> "Pwee Keng Ho" <kengho@singmail.com> wrote in message
news:<cbqca8$cqd$1@reader01.singnet.com.sg>...
> > Michael,
> > There's a limit hand known as the Three Great Scholars and it involves
pungs
> > with Zhong, Fa and Bai Ban. It's a special hand because you only need
the
> > three pungs and don't need to complete the rest of the hand.
> >
> > Incidentally, I have some dice carved in Singapore in the 1960's or
70's.
> > These have symbols of Singapore political parties at the time on 3
sides,
> > and the other 3 sides are Mahjong tiles with the characters for Fa (in
> > green, just as the contemporary Fa), Fu (in red, meaning prosperity),
and
> > the Chinese character for Bai [and not the contemporary symbol] (in
green
> > but meant to represent white because the die itself is white). I don't
know
> > what the significance of it is, but thought you might be interested.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Keng Ho
>
> Hello Keng Ho. Thanks very much for this extra information. Do you
> know the names of these Three great Scholars?
>
> Incidentally, here is another explanation that I think might be
> relevant. This hypothesis is rather tenuous as it relies heavily on
> colour correspondence, although one of the various meanings of each of
> the sinograms of Zhong, Fa and Bai might also apply.
>
> I wondered whether the three tiles of red Zhong, green Fa and,
> obviously, white Bai refer to the 'three gods of good fortune' as
> described in Eberhard(1986). To quote; "...the one who confers high
> office and riches wears a red robe; the one beside him, dressed in
> green, blesses a family with children, while a third, who gives long
> life, is dressed in yellow or white."
>
> If only we had some documentation against which we may test these
> expalantions.
>
> Cheers
> Michael
Anonymous
June 30, 2004 10:04:06 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

d_lau@my-deja.com (Dee) wrote in message news:<bc999a91.0406290739.37a83ef2@posting.google.com>...
> > "Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
> > news:52f8c9c6.0406261428.79c4ce3e@posting.google.com...
> > > Indeed, I own a set that dates from sometime in the period 1890 - 1909
> > > that has these 4 tiles with the large sinograms. Culin's set of 1909
> > > has the Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum tiles which,
> > > according to Eberhard(1986) symbolise 'The Four Noble Plants'. Culin's
> > > set also has the group Chessboard, Lute, Book and Painting which
> > > symbolise 'The Four Arts of the Scholar'(who is one of 'The Four
> > > Callings'), according to Eberhard(1986).
> > >
> > > But this does not explain where the term 'Flowers' or 'Flower Gardens'
> > > came from.
>
> But it does explain where the term "Flowers" come from. The four
> flower tiles: Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo (in that order)
> are collectively called the flowers. Actually, any grouping of four
> "things" in a common Chinese saying can be used. There is an implied
> ordering to the four symbols, and this implied ordering gives the
> tiles their association with the seat. The "Four Arts" should be in
> the order: Zither, Chess, Poetry, and Painting. And of course, the
> "Seasons" are in the order: Spring, Summer, Autum, and Winter. The
> Chinese call these the "Flower" tiles as a short-hand to include all
> such tiles.

Hello Dee. Sorry for being obtuse here, but are you saying that the
four 'flower' tiles get their name because they are collectively
called the 'flowers'? This seems to me like circular reasoning.

I wondered whether the name originally came from some intrinsic
quality or property of these four tiles - for example, they are all
representations of plant blossoms. Hence my comment which you snipped
out at the end of my quote.

As I remarked, Eberhard(1986) refers to them as the "Four Noble
Plants". Can anyone enlighten me as to why these four have the
(symbolic) property of 'nobility'?

Cheers
Michael Stanwick
June 30, 2004 6:03:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

mstanwick@aol.com (Michael Stanwick) wrote in message news:<52f8c9c6.0406300504.51c883ce@posting.google.com>...
> Hello Dee. Sorry for being obtuse here, but are you saying that the
> four 'flower' tiles get their name because they are collectively
> called the 'flowers'? This seems to me like circular reasoning.

I am saying that the four tiles have pictures of "flowers" on them.
But instead of referring to them individually as "plum", "orchid", ...
and so on, they are just collectively referred to as the "flower
tiles". Maybe I am not explaining it clearly.
Anonymous
July 1, 2004 6:50:42 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

d_lau@my-deja.com (Dee) wrote in message news:<bc999a91.0406301303.4bc17179@posting.google.com>...
> mstanwick@aol.com (Michael Stanwick) wrote in message news:<52f8c9c6.0406300504.51c883ce@posting.google.com>...
> > Hello Dee. Sorry for being obtuse here, but are you saying that the
> > four 'flower' tiles get their name because they are collectively
> > called the 'flowers'? This seems to me like circular reasoning.
>
> I am saying that the four tiles have pictures of "flowers" on them.
> But instead of referring to them individually as "plum", "orchid", ...
> and so on, they are just collectively referred to as the "flower
> tiles". Maybe I am not explaining it clearly.

Hello Dee. Yes, this is perfectly clear. Thanks. In fact, I had
posited a similar explanation earlier - altho I involved Westerners in
the explanation. Also implicit was the realisation that their name was
a collective one. Here is the relevant text;
> However, I also have another early set that I calculate dates from
> between 1901 and 1909. This has 'The Four Noble Plants' plus four
> other tiles which have various designs on them which are not relevant
> here. It is possible that if these four plant tiles were present in
> tile sets at the beginning of the 20th century, then they *may have*
> become known by Westerners in China as 'Flowers' since they
> superficially bare a resemblance to Flowers. This is another tentative
> explanation.

Do you have any evidence, of any sort, as to when this group of four
tiles was known as the 'Flowers' - by Chinese or Western players? (I
am trawling though my material at the moment to see if I have any
data).

I would also be interested to know why these particular 'flowers' are
used in this group and why the 'implied ordering'. In other words,
what is their symbolic meaning and/or function? This is relevant to
your comment "...this implied ordering gives the tiles their
association with the seat." Do you know how old this function is?

Cheers
Michael
Anonymous
July 1, 2004 11:39:54 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
news:52f8c9c6.0406300504.51c883ce@posting.google.com...
[...]
> >
> > But it does explain where the term "Flowers" come from. The four
> > flower tiles: Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo (in that order)
> > are collectively called the flowers.
[...]
>
> As I remarked, Eberhard(1986) refers to them as the "Four Noble
> Plants". Can anyone enlighten me as to why these four have the
> (symbolic) property of 'nobility'?

Long ago I heard of the saying that these 4 flowers each has its unique
character that reflects or represents certain quality or behaviour an ideal
person shall have. For example, Plum is found in the deep cold of winter,
representing those who can survive the most rigorous circumstances. Bamboo
is hard to bend, representing those who are not easy to surrender. I forgot
the other two and I might have mixed up these two as well. However, I
believe the unique character of each flower could be the reason why those
plants are described as noble.

Hope this to be of help.

Cofa Tsui
www.iMahjong.com
Anonymous
July 5, 2004 1:18:42 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.mahjong (More info?)

"Cofa Tsui" <cofatsui@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<edPEc.956636$oR5.316131@pd7tw3no>...
> "Michael Stanwick" <mstanwick@aol.com> wrote in message
> news:52f8c9c6.0406300504.51c883ce@posting.google.com...
> [...]
> > >
> > > But it does explain where the term "Flowers" come from. The four
> > > flower tiles: Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo (in that order)
> > > are collectively called the flowers.
> [...]
> >
> > As I remarked, Eberhard(1986) refers to them as the "Four Noble
> > Plants". Can anyone enlighten me as to why these four have the
> > (symbolic) property of 'nobility'?
>
> Long ago I heard of the saying that these 4 flowers each has its unique
> character that reflects or represents certain quality or behaviour an ideal
> person shall have. For example, Plum is found in the deep cold of winter,
> representing those who can survive the most rigorous circumstances. Bamboo
> is hard to bend, representing those who are not easy to surrender. I forgot
> the other two and I might have mixed up these two as well. However, I
> believe the unique character of each flower could be the reason why those
> plants are described as noble.
>
> Hope this to be of help.

Hello Cofa. Many thanks for replying to my post. Yes, this is exactly
the thing I am after.

There are also the 'Four Noble Occupations or Callings' and the 'Four
Arts of the Scholar' - who is one of the 'Four Callings'. It seems
that some things that appear in 'fours', or can be rendered into four,
were worthy of inclusion, as Dee pointed out in a previous post.

Of course, the 'Four Seasons' are the oldest and are original to the
earliest sets we know of. It is my opinion that they are related to
the other tiles in some way - apart from sharing the group property of
four units(tiles).

Cheers
Michael
!