Babcock's Mah Jongg Patent

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.
33 answers Last reply
More about babcock jongg patent
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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: 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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?)
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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.
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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.
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
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