When we talk about hand-carved mahjong making, most people think of the characters made by hand-carving masters with family shops in Hong Kong. However, not many people know the secrets of how to make mahjong tiles in a manufacturing factory in the old days of Hong Kong from 1970s-2000s.
The Value of Mahjong Craftsmanship – Since 1963 Kowloon City
Mahjong has a long history in Chinese culture, bringing much happiness to family gatherings. It has a high value in our culture along with Hong Kong craftsmanship.
My grandfather Cheung started as an apprentice in the mahjong tile industry, going on to open his first factory, named ‘Fuk Hing Lung” Mahjong Factory with grandmother, which was located in South Wall Road of Kowloon City in 1963.
My father, Ricky Cheung, worked very hard day and night and expanded the business in the 1980s & 1990s, to the point where the family’s manufacturing factory was one of the largest ones in old Hong Kong. The whole family was living and working together under the same roof in Kowloon City. I spent the whole day at the factory following his father’s work and observing each member’s crafting role.
Mahjong Master Craftsman Ricky Cheung
Having almost 40 years hand-carved mahjong tile experience, master Cheung started learning hand-carved tiles from his parents when he was in secondary school. The special industry grew into a peak during 1980s which became part of Hong Kong story.
Unfortunately, the industry began to die off, and traditional mahjong tile industry was not spared from the march to modernize since 1990s in Hong Kong, Master Cheung strove to reinvent and improved the quality of the product by working hard with family members. He started to explore machinery support for the factory in 2000s.
Although the business was still not be able to sustain in 2009 due to the severe competition from mainland China, the spirit of the mahjong craftsmanship stays alive. After another ten-year of working hard to support family, Cheung has finally retired in 2018 and is now fully engaged with artistic and creative mahjong craftmanship development inspired by her daughter with a mission to preserve Hong Kong culture.