The very basic equipment needed to play a mahjong game is tiles and dice. Not all sets contain the same number of tiles. In general, Asian mahjong sets will lack the joker tiles needed to play American forms of mahjong. Japanese mahjong sets will contain additional red fives but lack flower tiles and jokers.

In addition to tiles and dice, mahjong sets may include other accessories such as a wind indicator, chips, or racks.


Tiles come in different shapes, colors, and material. However, they have the same basic features. Sets should have 136+ tiles, and all the tiles should look identical on the backs and sides. Aside from the tiles shown below, a set might have jokers (used in American mahjong), blanks (extra tiles in case you lose some, or an alternative design for white dragon tiles), and bonus tiles. There are four copies of each tile in a set, with the exception of bonus tiles.

Main Article: Suits

Suit Tiles

There are three suits in mahjong: bamboo, dots, and characters. The suits are numbered one through nine (108 tiles total).


Bamboo tiles, one through nine

In most sets, 1-bamboo looks like a bird, but some sets use a 1-bamboo that has just one green bamboo stick.


These are the character tiles

If you don't want to learn Chinese, make sure you get a set that has the English numerals too.


Same deal as the bamboo and characters.

Main Article: Honors


Honor tiles are the non-numbered, non-suit tiles. These include three dragons and four winds (28 tiles total).


Dragon tiles

Green, Red, and White Dragon tiles. If your set has English letters, the green dragon is labeled F, red is C, and white is P or B. Sometimes the white dragons are completely blank tiles.


Wind tiles

East, South, West, and North Wind tiles. If your set has English letters, they are labeled E, S, W, and N.

Main Article: Flowers

Flower (Bonus) Tiles

Bonus tiles, which include flower and seasons, are commonly known just as ‘flowers’ for short. In most rules, the bonus tiles are optional. (Eight tiles total).


Flower tiles

These are flower tiles, numbered one through four.


Season tiles

Same deal as flower tiles. There is only one copy of each bonus tile.

Main Article: Jokers

Joker Tiles

Joker tiles are used only in American mahjong as wilds (8 tiles total).


Joker tile

They are typically blank or have the work ‘joker’ spelled out. The pictures on them may vary. Some enthusiasts would go so far to have their blank joker tiles personalized.

See Also

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