Mah Jongg Tiles and Names

Mah Jongg uses three suits (bamboo, coins, and numbers) that run from 1 to 9:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

There are also three dragons and four winds:
Red Green White
Dragon Dragon Dragon
East South West North

Names of the tiles

The following table lists the different tiles along with their Mandarin and Cantonese names. (Different sources disagree on the names; I have tried to pick representative names.)

Name Picture Chinese Mandarin Cantonese
Red dragon (Middle) hng zhōng hung4 zung1
Green dragon (Prosperity) qīng fā / fā cai 發財 faat3 coi4
White dragon bi ban baak6 baan2
East Wind 東 风 dōng fēng dung1 fung1
South Wind 南 风 nn fēng naam4 fung1
West Wind 西 风 xī fēng sai1 fung1
North Wind 北 风 běi fēng baak1 fung1
Bamboo sǔo sok3
Coins tng tung4
Numbers wn maan6
1 jat1
2 r ji6
3 sān saam1
4 s sei3
5 ng5
6 li luk6
7 cat1
8 baat3
9 jiǔ gau2

Quick summary of dealing

The dealer throws three dice and sums up the total. Counting counterclockwise so that the dealer is '1', a player's row is chosen. Starting at the right edge, 'sum' tiles are counted and shifted to the right.

The dealer now takes a block of 4 tiles to the left of the divide.

The player to the dealer's right takes 4 tiles to the left, and players (counterclockwise) take blocks of 4 tiles (clockwise) until all players have 12 tiles for 13-tile variations and 16 for 16-tile variations. In 13-tile variations, each player then takes one more tile to make a 13-tile hand. In practice, in order to speed up the dealing procedure, the dealer often takes one extra tile during the dealing procedure to start their turn.

The board is now ready and new tiles will be taken from the wall where the dealing left off, proceeding clockwise. (from wikipedia)

See also MJ terms FAQ

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Ken Shirriff:
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Copyright 2009 Ken Shirriff. Last updated 8/19/2009.