This $425 “Gentrified” Mahjong Set is Kicking Off a Social Media Storm

The Mahjong Line is a company founded by three white entrepreneurs, aiming to save the game from its unknowing lack of style

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2:37 PM HKT, Wed January 6, 2021 1 mins read

The internet is rightfully outraged over The Mahjong Line, a brand whose cringey aim is to “bring Mahjong to the stylish masses.” They accomplish this through an unnecessary fusion: traditional Chinese cultural heritage, blended with all that stuff by the counter at Urban Outfitter’s.

Somehow though, it’s not the 400USD+ price tag that has people upset. Rather, it’s the “self-important op-ed” that catalyzed the blowback.

“On a quest to purchase her first Mahjong set,” reads the advertising copy, “Kate discovered that the artwork of the traditional tiles, while beautiful, was all the same — and did not reflect the fun that was had when playing with her friends. And nothing came close to mirroring her style and personality.”

After a moment of reflection on Kate’s style and personality, the text continues to explain that “the venerable game needed a respectful refresh” — the kind that could only be done with the help of her “partners in crime,” Annie and Bianca.


Understandably, Twitter was not thrilled. Taking a “flawed” piece of respected Asian culture, “fixing” it, and repackaging it without any Asian identity to bank a quick 400USD… is not how we’re starting 2021.

The Mahjong Line somehow managed to become the Lucky Lee’s of mahjong — potentially a new frontier in unnecessary acts of cultural appropriation. They also referred to the game at certain points as “mahj,” which feels utterly unforgivable. After they went viral, the brand turned off comments on Instagram.

So if you’re going to make your own custom mahjong set, maybe don’t charge 425USD for it, and definitely don’t approach it with a white savior complex.

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