About Mahjong Master Cheung
Master Cheung was the owner and master craftsman of ‘Fuk Hing Lung” Mahjong manufacturing factory which was a well-known brand in the industry. Established by Karen Aruba’s grandfather and grandmother, Fuk Hing Lung used to be one of the two largest leading mahjong tile factories operating the whole manufacturing processes running by a family in Hong Kong from 1963 – 2009. The factory mainly supplied mahjong tiles to parlours, hotels and club houses in Hong Kong.
Master Cheung had over 40 years hand-carved mahjong tile experience. He started his learning when he was in secondary school. He succeeded his father’s business and committed to develop mahjong manufacturing with partial running machine for the factory in 2000s.
He has retired from 2018 and is now fully engaged with artistic and creative mahjong development together with her daughter Karen with a mission to preserve Hong Kong culture – a cheerful, humorous and friendly master!
My Family Mahjong Making Story
When we talk about mahjong making, most people may think of the plastic materials and characters made by hand-carving masters with family shops at streets. However, not many people know the secrets of how to make mahjong tiles in a manufacturing factory in the old days of Hong Kong.
“Fuk Hing Lung” (復興隆麻雀廠) used to be one of the leading mahjong tile manufacturing factories in family business in old Hong Kong. My grandfather was an apprentice when he was very young. He setup the mahjong manufacturing business in Kowloon City in 1963. The factory was moved to Kowloon Bay in 1989. The business grew rapidly along with the growth of Hong Kong manufacturing industry in 1980s-1997. The products were supplied to the market including restaurants, hotels, mahjong parlours and club houses in Hong Kong. The business did support quite a number of master craftsman families with very stable job over the decades.
In the factory, each family member played an important and interesting role.
1. Younger uncle: responsible for cutting mahjong tiles into pieces, grinding and polishing the tiles
2. Father was responsible for everything of the business such as hand-carving mahjong, machine development, product delivery
3. One aunt was responsible for smoothing mahjong tiles and product packaging
4. Grandmother, mother and two aunts were responsible for painting and rubbing off the paint on mahjong tiles
5. The elder uncle & mother were the accountant
Unfortunately, the economy went very bad since 2000s. Intensive competition with very low labour and production cost from the Mainland China led to the shutdown of the whole business in the industry despite all the efforts that my family devoted into it. The business turned very bad dramatically which caused a lot of people losing their jobs all at a sudden.
For me, it is always my wish to do something related to mahjong theme and add new and interesting values on it to preserve traditional craftmanship combined with creative art. In such way, we can keep memories of Hong Kong culture and show appreciation to those masters who made contribution to Hong Kong handcarving value.
But how much do you know the traditional steps of many mahjong tiles? Let’s take a closer look of my family members’ manpower in the mahjong factory in 1980s!
What were the making tools of
hand-carving mahjong tiles?
1) Put mahjong tiles on top of the lamp box, that is easier for sculpture
2) A pair of special scissors to engrave characters
3) A long carving knife for lined characters 孛子
4) A special drill for making round character 筒子
5) Three main painting colors: green, blue and red
That’re a lot of efforts put in for one set of mahjong tiles indeed. While this manufacturing industry is unlikely to come alive again in Hong Kong, we are committed to keep Hong Kong culture and family ties alive through art with mahjong features. Thank you for your valuable support to us!
How to make Mahjong – Hong Kong culture and memory @2017
I m never keen on playing mahjong. My friends know me well. But the first time I started painting on mahjong tiles was 11 years old. It was taught by my mom.
“What should I do?”, “How can I help to preserve Hong Kong people’s history?”, I kept asking myself this question for the last 10 years.
One day, I suddenly made up my mind and drew two artworks related to ‘How to make mahjong’ theme: one is to sketch the district where the mahjong factory was built at Kowloon City. The second artwork is to draw the tools and describe the whole manufacturing process of making mahjong. It is a very interesting idea indeed to tell people the old production processes and the tools in a modern way. Many people love this fashion design. That is really amazing!
I tried to create something in a more modern style, while keeping the traditional elements of Mahjong culture. After sketching and painting hand, my design will be able to preserve the story with the hand-drawn illustration.
Now, I am so happy that my products have gained the support of the “Mahjong Hostel” and the products are selling to the tourists coming to HK. Apart from that, my design is also illustrated and featured on a big wall at Mahjong Hostel.
I would like to say thank you to Mahjong Hostel for such a wonderful opportunity because the doodle wall helps to preserve all the secrets behind the manufacturing processes- a part of Hong Kong traditional handicraft industry!
An Art Journal in Canada 2017
An Art Journal in Japan – Travel with Pens & Colors, 2016
If a picture is worth a thousand word, an art journal can show travel lovers thousands of words of an amazing trip in just a minute. While art journal is very common in western countries, there aren’t too many postage of sharing in Asia. So, how did I work out an Art Journal for a creative trip? To start with, bring some simple drawing materials which are easy to carry for the trip like watercolor, ink pens, maps, pencils, camera and an art journal sketchbook. I try to make full use of the time during lunch period at Universal Studio theme park. A multi-tasking mission, playing and drawing all go together. Record what I have eaten by taking photography and then finish the illustration for a gourmet tour! Watercolor pencils are very easy to use materials to fill in colors quick after sketching. After finishing the visit, draw another driving map for Arima hot spring…..pencil sketch and watercolor effect are the best to represent the natural environment. Finish the final drawing with a beautiful night view. In fact, never giving up to draw whenever there is a short break. This adds passion for me to complete the artwork within the trip!