What History We Can Learn from Mah-jongg About America
Mah-jongg, an ancient game that lets players match or arrange pieces of tile, is commonly called the Chinese’s “national pastime.” But its rise as a popular game is rooted elsewhere as it was the beginning of modern American culture during the 1920s.
This intriguing history is discussed in detail in Annelise Heinz’s newly published book Mahjong the Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture in which she asserts that the name of the game that has several spellings, can give valuable insight into the ways in which factors of identity such as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality morphed and interacted in a fast-changing world. It is an awesome tile-based game mahjong which is famous all over the world.
Heinz describes the ways that, across cultures and across countries, starting from its beginnings in China in the 1800s, to its resurgence in popularity among Jewish American women in the 1950s, mah-jongg had always been a method to build community. Some falls in same category of card game solitaire 247 but the difference is between the tiles and rules of game.
This connection line extends across generations and even groups. When I was, I was a young Chinese American girl growing up in the Bay Area, I played mah-jongg in order to make friends with my grandparents.
After making the move from Brooklyn in my adulthood, I’ve been playing mahjongg at a local Asian supermarket has become an everyday fixture for me on the social calendar as my friends who have learned to play American-style using their bubbes play shuffle tiles with new neighbors who have never played before at first.
A recent criticism of a corporation’s “refresh” of the game as a possible cultural appropriation in the past similar to concerns voiced during the long and varied time of playing the sport has been accompanied by plenty of controversy but, particularly with regard to race. peak popularity of the sport in early 20th century.
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“Mah-jongg has the power to be both a bridge and a barrier,” Heinz stated to TIME in a telephone interview. “I hope that we can learn from the past to also embrace the positive, wonderful possibilities of this great game that so many people love around the world, and that has brought so many people together.”
The book’s launch in the coming week Heinz interviewed TIME about the story of mah-jongg’s history and its place in contemporary American culture, and how it became an opportunity for a wide variety of people to form the community.
Mah-jongg was a fairly modern game that came into existence during the late 1800s to mid 1900s within the Yangtze River Delta. In the late 1800s, it was growing in popularity throughout China but mostly in certain urban areas such as Shanghai as well as Beijing However, in the 1920s, it gained an international image, which increased the interest of China too. The trend was driven by entrepreneurs, exporters and marketers specifically Joseph Park Babcock, whose mah-jongg sales company was instrumental in popularizing it among American expatriates. in China before promoting it as an exotic and international consumer product to the general American population.