The Season and Flower tiles have a special significance and only one piece is provided of each tile in a Mah Jongg set. These tiles are known as the Supreme Honour Tiles. The tiles are numbered from 1 - 4 in one of the top corners and belong to the players as shown below:
|Number||Player||Flower (1)||Season (2)|
|1||East Wind||Plum Blossom||Spring|
Note 1: The number for each tile will be shown in either black or green.
Note 2: The number for each tile will be shown in red.
Although the Flower and Season tiles are used when playing a Mah Jongg Game they are not regarded as suits to be collected, you cannot collect Chows, Pungs, or Kongs of these tiles. The only purpose these tiles serve is to provide bonus points. For a detailed explanation of the scoring of these tiles see scoring.
During a Game if a player is dealt one of these tiles then they will be given a replacement tile. For example, at the start of Game it is possible that a player could be dealt a Flower and a Season tile, for example, the Summer tile and Bamboo tile. In such a case the player will be given two replacement tiles, which are taken from the Loose Tiles that mark the end of a Wall. Similarly during a Game if a player is dealt a Flower or Season tile they will receive a replacement tile. Again this is taken from the Loose Tiles that mark the end of the Wall.
The Flower tiles together with the Season tiles make up a set of tiles that are known as the Eight Guardians. The Flowers; Plum Blossom, Orchid, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo are known in Mah Jongg as the Four Nobles and they were chosen not only to compliment the four Seasons but to provide an example of different kinds of plants.
Together the tiles that make up the eight guardians are representative of the Eight Guardians of Taoism - eight mortal beings who through their asceticism and pious works were transported to the celestial realms.
Chinese Character: "Yu"
Spring is represented by the fisherman. Chinese miniatures of the fisherman often represent the ancient philosopher Chiang T'ai Kung who was discovered by King Wen of the Chou dynasty. King Wen is attributed with the compilation of the commentaries in the I Ching.
The fisherman's philosophy is simple common sense, it is that good management leads to good working relationships which in turn bring prosperity to all. The fisherman is also renowned for his patience and can represents this quality also.
The fisherman / spring is represented by the Chinese character "Yu", is associated to the East Wind, the colour green, the element wood and the Plum Blossom flower.
Chinese Character: "Ch'iao"
Summer is represented by the woodcutter. The woodcutter chopping firewood is a representation of three of the five elements of Chinese philosophy: Fire and Wood and Metal (represented by the woodcutter's axe). Fire is the dominant element which controls wood and metal, and it represents all the positive influences of vitality, drive, ambition and industry. The meaning signified by the woodcutter is success through activity. The woodcutter / summer is represented by the Chinese character "Ch'iao" and is associated to the South Wind, the element fire and the Orchid flower.
Chinese Character: "Keng"
Also represented by the farmer and signifying the tasks and toil of bringing in a harvest. It is associated with physical and arduous labour, but all the same, labour which brings its own rich rewards.
The farmer specifically indicates that bodily effort is required to achieve a task, it is not an oblique reference to perseverance or patience but rather indicates that one needs to get up and put one's back into a job!
The farmer / autumn is represented by the Chinese character "Keng" and is associated with the West Wind, the colour white, the element metal and the Chrysanthemum flower.
Chinese Character: "Tu"
Also represented by the scholar - the scholar in question being Confucius. The scholar is usually depicted carrying a fly-whisk, which Taoist philosophers would wave to emphasise certain points during discussions.
Winter can be a fallow time when little can be successfully achieved outdoors, the scholar therefore indicates that those of a cultured mind can turn their attentions towards works of literary or artistic merit. For practical minded people the scholar indicates that administrative paperwork must not be forgotten. The qualities of prudence and preserving one's reserves are therefore most significant.
The scholar / winter is represented by the Chinese character "Tu" and is associated with the North Wind, the colour black, the element water and the Bamboo flower.