Flowers on Mah Jongg Tiles

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2015-05-19 14.31.47

Did you ever wonder about the flowers on the Mah Jongg tiles? These flowers represent the four Confucian plants: bamboo (summer), chrysanthemum (autumn), orchid (spring), and plum (winter). They are known as the Four Gentlemen of China. These groupings are seen repeatedly in the Chinese aesthetic of art, painting, literature, and garden design.

In the Chinese culture, the chrysanthemum signifies a life of ease. Buddhists are fond of using this flower as offerings on altars. Symbolic of powerful Yang energy, this flower is an attractant of good luck in the home.

Orchids have been used in traditional medicine and herbal remedies in an effort to treat many diseases and ailments. Orchids in general stand for beauty, charm, elegance, strength and peace. The Chinese also associate orchids with fertility, and with refinement, thoughtfulness and the innocence of children.

The plum blossom is seen as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring. The blossoms are so beloved because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow. In Confucianism the plum blossom stands for the principles and values of virtue.

Bamboo has a long life as well as principles of uprightness, tenacity and hollow heart. People endow bamboo with integrity, elegance and plainness, though it is not physically strong. An ancient poet thought that to be a gentleman, a man does not need to be physically strong, but he must be mentally strong, upright, and able to persevere.

The next time you have some flowers on your rack, remember that in addition to helping your Mah Jongg hand, they have strong symbolism in other cultures.

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