Wan

This suit is sometimes known in English as "Characters". Tiles in this suit are numbered from 1 - 9 and are described below.

The third and final suit of the three suits (Bamboo and Circles being the others), it is usually known to Western players as the "character" or "signs" suit. Wan literally means "ten thousand" although it can also be taken to mean any large number or unlimited. The significance of "ten thousand" is that it is taken to mean the entire universe, the entire world or eternity. The Wan suit therefore represents abstract ideals rather than everyday living.

The Chinese have three different characters to represent "ten thousand". The classical character that is used represents a scorpion, but as this is a complex character to write a second abbreviated form is also in use. The third character that is used is the swastika, this is only used in Buddhist religious texts to represent the "ten thousand things" that symbolize the heart of the Buddha.

1 Wan
Chinese Character: "Ju"

Represented by the Chinese character for one and resembling the bar of a door. Therefore the significance is of a barrier being lifted, or a door being opened, bringing new opportunities ahead.

2 Wan
Chinese Character: "Chien"

Symbolised by the sword. A double-edged sword denotes a balance or a decision. It can therefore represent the joining together or the severance of something, for example, in relation to people or an event. Either way it indicates that something is held in balance and that no progress can be made until a decision is made. The sword is associated to the season Autumn, the West Wind, the element metal and the colour white.

3 Wan
Chinese Character: "Ti"

Represented by the Earth, one of the five elements of Chinese philosophy. It symbolises the fixed centre and does not therefore belong to any season or compass direction. This tile represents Earth element's attributes which include stability, more generally it is interpreted to mean land, estate, wide open spaces or the countryside.

4 Wan
Chinese Character: "Ch'in"

Symbolised by the lute and representing the performing arts. It is a symbol of music, leisure and relaxation - a time for enjoyment after a day or lifetime's work.

5 Wan
Chinese Character: "Fang"

Represented by the symbol of a house and meaning any building, for example, a home, place of business, administrative offices, school or hospital. The symbol essentially represents a physical building rather than an organisation or society.

6 Wan
Chinese Character: "Huo"

Symbolised by the element fire and the third element in the five elements of Chinese philosophy. It represents the personal attributes of intelligence and inspiration. This tile above all others in the Mah Jongg set provide the greatest warning of danger. It can indicate the burning up of resources; mental, physical and financial. It can also (when associated with certain other tiles) indicate an accident to a person or property.

7 Wan
Chinese Character: "Tuo"

Represented by the "seven stars" and indicating imagination. The "seven stars" denote the seven stars that make up the constellation of the Plough - part of the Great Bear of Western astronomy. This constellation was believed to be the seat of the gods - and was particularly associated with literary excellence in ancient Chinese mythology. Consequently this tile can represent writing, mathematics or literature. The essential qualities represented by this tile are therefore hope, imagination and literary excellence.

8 Wan
Chinese Character: "Chieh"

The most enigmatic of all the tiles and represented by a knot. A knot can represent the tying or untying of something, related to persons or an event.

9 Wan
Chinese Character: "Tien"

Represented by Heaven and symbolising completion, not necessarily an end because as one cycle closes another begins. It therefore represents achievement and fulfilment.

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