There are lots of different tiles used in Mahjong, here is a summary to help you to identify them!
A Mahjong set will most commonly have 144 tiles, although this varies around the world. These tiles can be constructed from a range of materials. Older sets were traditionally made from Bamboo and Bone or sometimes Ivory, but modern sets are generally constructed using plastics like bakelite or celluloid. The symbols on the tiles are usually pressed or engraved into the tile.
The suits on Mahjong tiles consist of 3 currency-based suits with ranks of 1 to 9 and there are 4 tiles of each rank per suit (36 tiles per suit).
The Circle Suit represents copper coins. The 1 Circle usually has multiple colours – green blue and red. The 2 Circle tile has a green circle and a blue circle. The 3 Circle adds a red circle and so on.
The Bamboo Suit represents rope strings which tie together 100 copper coins and are displayed as green, red and blue bamboo sticks for each number 2 through to 9. The 1 Bamboo is usually displayed as a bird (often a sparrow) and it is said this is to stop people adding extra sticks to the single bamboo to change its value.
The Character Suit represents wans which are groups of rope strings of coins. 1 wan = 100 strings of 100 coins. The rank of the tile is shown at the top in blue with the character in red below.
These do not have a rank or suit and are made up of 2 categories: Wind tiles (4types) and Dragon tiles (3 types). There are 16 Wind tiles and 12 Dragon tiles in total.
The Wind tiles are made up of North, South, East and West and are characterised by blue traditional chinese characters.
The three Dragon tiles are Red – with a red chinese character or dragon; Green – with a green chinese character or dragon; and White which can be a tile without markings, or with a square border. In Japanese Mahjong clubs, this tile is sometimes called tofu (bean curd)!
These tiles are in groups of 4 unique single flower designs. In common 144 tile sets there are usually 2 flower tile sets – 1 with red numerals numbered 1 to 4 and one with blue numerals numbered from 1 to 4. The designs on these tiles are often artistic pictures of flowers. Some Mahjong sets will differentiate these tiles and refer to them as the Flower tiles and Season tiles. The 4 flowers represented are plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo. The Season tiles are for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.