U.S. company apologizes for Chinese mahjong cultural blunder

The cheeky line-Skylight blue release (Courtesy of The Mahjong Line)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — The “Mahjong Line,” a Texas-based company, issued an apology on Wednesday after being criticized for disrespecting Chinese mahjong culture with their new “American Mahjong” sets.  

According to NBC, the idea to redesign American Mahjong came from Kate LaGere, one of the three founders of the company.   

According to the company’s website, LaGere decided to create the “American Mahjong” after she “discovered” that the traditional tiles, which have had the same designs for centuries, “did not reflect the fun” she had while playing the game.  

The botanical line is seen in this file photo. (Courtesy of The Mahjong Line)

Last Nov. 5, the company officially launched several mahjong sets priced at US$325 (NT$9107) and US$425 (NT$11,910).  

However, the company immediately met a backlash online with some saying that the “American Mahjong” sets are making money by exploiting Chinese culture.  

Others claimed that the company’s use of the term “rebranding” seemingly implies the superiority of “American mahjong.”  

The cheeky line-Skylight blue release (Courtesy of The Mahjong Line)
The cheeky line-Skylight blue release (Courtesy of The Mahjong Line)

The “Mahjong Line” made an apology on its official Instagram on Wednesday after an overwhelming wave of criticism.  

The statement reads: “While our intent is to inspire and engage with a new generation of American mahjong players, we recognize our failure to pay proper homage to the game’s Chinese heritage. Using words like “refresh” was hurtful to many, and we are deeply sorry.”  

The botanical line paris pink release (Courtesy of The Mahjong Line)

The company will open to constructive criticism and continue to conduct conversations with those who can provide further insight into the game’s traditions and roots in both Chinese and American cultures, the statement said.