If You Want A New Mahjong Set, Here Are 5 Unique (And Inoffensive) Designs
First developed in China during the Qing dynasty, Mahjong has, of course, spread throughout the world since. The game of 144 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols has become so widespread and popular, it recently inspired three American women to give the game a Westernised "refresh" and for a retail price of between $325 and $425. Long drama short, this "Americanised" Mahjong set, which featured words like "BAM!" and imagery like bubbles on its tiles, was quickly accused by Asian netizens as whitewashing a cultural item for profit and inferring that traditional designs weren't "stylish" enough—ouch. One Twitter user wrote, “What makes this culturally insensitive is that they felt the need to 'refresh' AKA whitewash the game in order to make it 'worthy' of playing.”
The website for the product has since been taken down and the owners of the company have apologised, so let's not dwell on the negative but look towards something positive. If you are indeed now considering getting a new or your first Mahjong set, there are plenty of stunning, authentic or respectfully upgraded ones out there—some of them highly luxurious even. Here are our top five picks of modern Mahjong sets that would be perfect for your home.
1/5 Hermes Helios Mahjong Set
Made from solid palissander wood, the Helios Mahjong set comes with luxurious orange-brown calfskin leather tiles. Branded Hermes, this is one bougie set of Mahjong.
2/5 Jaques London Luxury Club Mahjong Set
Jacques London’s Mahjong set is perfect for beginners. It comes with a comprehensive rule book and is fully handmade down to its beautiful leather case. If that’s not enough, the set is packed with the trademark Jacques London historical paper and Jacques luxury ribbon, making it a perfect gift.
3/5 Geoffrey Parker Mahjong Set
This Mahjong set is like no other. Designed by China’s Mahjong artist Liu Jun together with Geoffrey Parket, the trunk comes with cigars, crystal glasses and even a decanter. The case made from leather, the tiles are crafted from bamboo and ox bone. For an extra touch, you can also get dragons engraved in the metal casing.
4/5 S.T. Dupont Mahjong Set
Okay, we take back what we said about Hermes' Mahjong set because this one is pure luxury. It took eight months to produce S.T. Dupont's set out of solid blocks of Tanzanian ruby. All 144 tiles are handmade and contain more than 1,000 Burmese rubies and 300 high-quality diamonds. The metalwork around the ruby tiles are engraved by hand in gold vermeil, the colour of five legendary emperors of ancient China.
5/5 Brunello Cucinelli Mahjong Set
Proving that Mahjong can be made respectfully outside of Asia, the Brunello Cucinelli Mahjong Set, made in Italy, is made from the finest materials and meticulous craftsmanship including European walnut wood, engraved using lasers. The cream and brown colour scheme marries heritage and the contemporary. With four stackable trays, two handmade wooden dice and a logo-engraved lid, this set is just so elegant and soothing to the soul.
Related: Here Are The Best Chess Sets To Buy