What do you call three American women trying to “refresh the game (of Mahjong)”?

We’d call it an attempt at cultural erasure.

For the uninitiated, Texas-based firm The Mahjong Line replaced the traditional Chinese numbers and symbols with carvings of bars of soap, cherries and bags of flour. While “engaging with a new generation of American mahjong players” left many with a bad (read: racist and culturally inappropriate) taste in their mouth, we’re thankful that not everybody is as tone-deaf.

mahjong
Chinese symbols and numbers removed from the redesigned tiles from US firm, The Mahjong Line (Image credit: The Mahjong Line)

In fact, more than a few luxury brands have created beautiful mahjong sets that don’t look to appropriate the traditional game.

Indeed, mahjong — born out of China in the 1800s — has transcended generations, connecting people and communities.

The game, should you be interested in learning, is not difficult to understand: four players sit around a square table, each trying to use their current and new tiles to swap for combinations that’ll allow them to win. To master the game, however, is a different story.

Similar to many strategy-led games, players have to rely on cooperation, communication and negotiation on top of familiarising themselves with the 144 tiles.

Here, we’ve put together a list of stylish mahjong sets to cop, sans the whitewash.

1
Hermes Helios Mahjong Set

Hermes’ Helios Mahjong Set is designed to ooze luxury: think orange-brown leather tiles that nod to the Maison’s colours, solid palissander wood and printed Swift calfskin. Unlike the usual clattering of tiles during shuffling, the leatherwork of the set allows for a quieter, more elegant version of gameplay.

Price
USD$40,400 (S$53,697)
Get it here
2
Tiffany & Co. Mahjong Set

If you’re a fan of the iconic Tiffany Blue, you’ll definitely fall in love with this set. The sterling silver mahjong set is housed in a Tiffany Blue box fitted with a grey suede interior, along with four American walnut wood tile rests, each engraved with the Tiffany & Co. logo.

Price
USD$15,000 (S$19,937)
Get it here
3
Prada Saffiano Leather Mahjong Game

Prada’s sleek design meets Mahjong in the Prada Saffiano Leather Mahjong Game, a set that sees individual acrylic resin playing pieces wrapped in Saffiano leather. Upon opening the stylish black case, players will find the brand’s signature black and red colours, elevated with gold engravings for the ultimate touch of luxury.

Price
S$5,500
Get it here
4
S.T. Dupont Mahjong Set

French luxury manufacturer S.T. Dupont has partnered with L’Aquart to launch the S.T. Dupont Mahjong Set, a hand-crafted collection designed with Tanzanian ruby, a gemstone that’s said to bring prosperity and protection, as well as keep one healthy and beautiful. The set comes with 144 extra-large tiles, 98 differently-sized coins, and two dice, encased in a luxurious chest of mahogany wood and ebony veneer.

Price
£795,000 (S$1,437,709)
Get it here
5
Brunello Cucinelli Walnut wood and Krion Mahjong set

Brunello Cucinelli’s Mahjong set is crafted with stunning European walnut wood and muted colour palettes to create an elegant, modern design that’s sure to impress any guest. The hand-decorated, made in Italy collection comes with 144 pieces and hand-made dice, all housed in four stackable trays for easy storage.

Price
USD$7,900(S$10,500)
Get it here
Jocelyn Tan
Writer
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer. She's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.