hist-games: Kipling and Mah-jongg game

Christian Joachim Hartmann lukian at Null.net
Mon Jun 19 11:35:47 PDT 2000

At 10:32 19.06.00 +0100, Adrian Seville wrote:
>Subject:        	Fw: Kipling and Mah-jongg game (fwd)
>Can anyone on hist-games help here?

I can't help. All of the early Mah-Jongg mentions *I* know
come from the South-East of China, the proper place of
origin of Mah-Jongg, between Shanghai and Kanton.

I'd be interested what this first Mah-Jongg mention in Japan
as early as 1910 is -- and what name was then used for the game.

>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: Takashi EBASHI 
>To: john at fastmedia.demon.co.uk 
>Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 12:13 AM
>Subject: Kipling and Mah-jongg game

>As this is the first e-mail for me to send you, I should introduce myself
>first. Last year, they established a new museum about the history of
>Mah-jongg game, and I am an adviser of it. 

Uuuh! High ranking customers they get! Of course I've heard of the
new Mah-Jongg museum!

>In Japan we can trace back the history of Mah-jong game to 1910. However,
>in the page 103(108?) of "Vanity Fair" December 1923, 

Thanks for the exact citation! I'll try to get a copy of this. :-)

>we can find out a
>very interesting advertisement of "Ma Jung (=Mah-jongg)" sets by
>Abercrombie & Fitch Co. They said they were selling Mah-jongg sets "in use
>at the Rokumeikan, in Tokyo, where Kipling first learned of the game,
>thirty years ago, on his road to Mandalay." As you know, and as Cortazzi &
>Webb's "Kipling's Japan" researched already, Kipling and his wife came to
>Japan in 1889 and 1892. If the advertisement told the truth, it means that
>we can trace back the history 20 years earlier than before and we can
>mention him as the first witness of Mah-jongg game in Japan. We need to
>know whether it is true or not.
>In Japan, there have been many historians of the Rokumeikan, but no one
>could have found out this interesting  fact. We guess the reason of this
>failure to the name of this game. They called this game as "Mah-jongg"
>since 1920s, and we don't know what Kipling called it in 1892. Chinese
>Domino?  Domino Game?  Game of Tiles? Tile games of China? Any way, we 
>not expect to find out the word Mah-jongg in Kipling documents. This might
>be the reason why so many historians could not find out Kipling's hobby of
>Mah-jongg game.

Hmm, if Kipling paraphrased the name of Mah-Jongg, this may be difficult,
allthough the high number of 136+ tiles may serve as an indication.

However, the name "Mah-Jongg" in one of its many pronounciaitions was
well in use earlier on, so Kipling might well have heard and used it even
as early as 1889/92.
For example, the 1918 book by Lichtenstein calls the game "Ma-Chiao-Pai",
a Mandarin transliteration.
In 1895 Culin reports from 1891 the name "Má tséuk", albeit for a different
type of card game. The game which he described as being played with an
ancestral Mah-Jongg set he calls "Chung fát".

So I guess that there is a fair chance to identify Mah-Jongg from any name
provided by Kipling that earlier researches with no background in Mah-Jongg
history might well have failed to correctly identify. 
Of course, this assumes that such a reference *can* be found there.

But then, I assume that Mr. Ebashi already knows all of the above.

**       Christian Joachim Hartmann
**       lukian at Null.net

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