Mah Jongg set

In Fun

This is my great-grandmother’s Mah Jongg set. My great-grandmother is Jewish, from a place in Russia that is now Poland. She was born and lived in NYC. You probably have a few questions, like: what even is Mah Jongg? Well, Mah Jongg is from China, but it was brought to America and became popular. Mah Jongg is made out of a few different materials. The tiles and racks are made out of bakelite (an early version of plastic), and the case is leather. Mah Jongg is a tile game, and it’s similar to rummy, the card game.  It was invented in China, and an American businessman, Joseph Babcock, brought it to the United States. I chose the artifact because of how important it was in my great-grandmother’s life. She played it a lot (3-4 times a week). She would invite people over and then play a lengthy game. Mah Jongg was immensely popular among Jewish American women, especially middle class, middle aged ones. However, I think that many Mah Jongg players now are older women who learned to play earlier.  This object symbolizes the social lives of many Jewish-American women, who played it to the world’s end. Mah Jongg was one of the most popular games ever played, a large fad, and it still lives on. Many older Mah Jongg players are teaching it to the younger generation.  My Mah Jongg set is made important game to many, and hopefully it will stay that way. 

Place(s): Poland,

– D

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant