Hong Kong Story: Antique Mahjong Tile Polishing Machines 香港故事:麻雀牌打磨機的溫馨回憶

The making of mahjong tiles not only reflects the exquisite craftsmanship of artisans but also serves as a vessel for our intangible cultural heritage. The mahjong manufacturing  process listed in Hong Kong’s ‘intangible cultural heritage’ involves more than the well-known “hand carving,” including machine grinding and polishing. Once, my family’s uncle skillfully crafted these delicate tiles at the Fuk Hing Lung Mahjong Factory, a place that is now hard to find in Hong Kong.

After a three-year wait, we finally had the opportunity to create two pieces of illustrations and explanations for two antique mahjong tile polishing machines at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC), with our father demonstrating the operation of the machines, adding a layer of familial sentiment to the cultural heritage!

These two antique machines are symbols of craftsmanship and silent witnesses to Hong Kong’s history. Once belonging to the “Au Heung Mahjong Factory” used to be operated in JCCAC, they are among the only old-fashioned mahjong tile polishing machines remaining in Hong Kong, now well-preserved on the 7th floor of the JCCAC. 

I am so thrilled to be part of this creative project, contributing to the 15th anniversary of the JCCAC, and having the chance to restore and cherish this piece of history.

It was particularly exciting when the descendants of the “Ou Xiang Mahjong Factory” reached out after hearing our story. Their predecessors were close colleagues with our ancestors, and through the making of tiny mahjong tiles, the bond between our families continues across generations, a sentiment we deeply treasure.

From now until August, everyone is welcome to visit the JCCAC to see my illustrations and understand the early process of making mahjong tiles in Hong Kong.