Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'Project Mah Jongg' at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Leisure-class ladies playing a floating game of mah jongg, 1924. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Project Mah Jongg. The On view July 13–October 28, 2014. Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Dorothy S. Meyerson teaching mah jongg on television, 1951. Courtesy Marjorie Meyerson Troum. Project Mah Jongg. On view July 13–October 28, 2014. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. 

My knowledge of the Jews in China came through the novels of Pearl Buck, particularly through her novel, "Peony." "Peony" is set in the 1850s in the city of K'aifeng, in the province of Hunan, which was historically a center for Chinese Jews. The novel follows Peony, a Chinese bondmaid of the prominent Jewish family of Ezra ben Israel, and shows through her eyes how the Jewish community was regarded in K'aifeng at a time when Jews had started to become assimilated into the Chinese community. The story shows the mutual tolerance between Jews and Chinese, an interracial love story and yes - lots of upper class Chinese women playing Mah Jongg.

It had many of the elements present in the current exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, "Project Mah Jongg," ...


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