Kwai Chai Hong's mahjong installation ready to welcome the dragon


A view of the 'Rise Of The Dragon' installation at Kwai Chai Hong, a cultural lane in KL's Chinatown district. It features a 'flying mahjong tiles' series, which all ready for the festive season. Photo: @justwanyu

It's that time of the year again, and the Kwai Chai Hong lane in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown is all geared up to welcome the Year of the Dragon with its latest festive season installation.

Titled Rise Of The Dragon, this installation is now open (9am to midnight) daily to the public until March 3. It revolves around the mahjong set, a tile-based game developed in the 19th century in China.

This year's thematic concept lets visitors to Kwai Chai Hong learn about the rich history of the beloved game, which has attracted a global audience and a new generation of fans.

Artists Lee Chaer Shean (left) and Wong Jia Min with their installation ' 'Rise Of The Dragon. Photo: Bai Chuan Artists Lee Chaer Shean (left) and Wong Jia Min with their installation ' 'Rise Of The Dragon. Photo: Bai Chuan

With a maximum four players at a time, this highly social game celebrates unity and togetherness, and requires both luck and skill to win.

The loud clacking of the mahjong tiles, which adds to the festive atmosphere, is said to mimic the sound of the firecrackers that are set off to drive away misfortune.

Visitors taking a photograph at one of the mural areas in the Kwai Chai Hong lane. Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias Visitors taking a photograph at one of the mural areas in the Kwai Chai Hong lane. Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias

The artists involved in this new CNY installation project are Wong Jia Min, and Lee Chaer Shean from plus + plus, a design studio based in Johor Baru.

The duo, known for its creative work in art and architecture, began the project last November. The idea was to create a mahjong game installation (made from acrylic panels) surrounded by the silhouette of a dragon traversing above.

“The mahjong panels and wire mesh collectively craft the silhouette of a dragon, awakening from its long slumber as winter ends. It then soars into the skies, representing hope for a better and more prosperous beginning in the Year of the Dragon,” says Wong, a British-trained architect, with professional experience across Malaysia and Singapore.

Mahjong is traditionally an activity meant for all ages and people, fostering the values of leisure and bonding. Photo: Bai ChuanMahjong is traditionally an activity meant for all ages and people, fostering the values of leisure and bonding. Photo: Bai Chuan

Like previous CNY installations at Kwai Chai Hong, the idea is to share Chinese culture and to attract a diverse audience. The mahjong game, requiring a various mix of tiles to form unique combinations, also serves as a metaphor for a nation's strength in diversity and unity.

“This installation is more than an artistic display; it is a tangible representation of hope, inviting individuals to contemplate and embrace a new life chapter as they welcome the Year of the Dragon,” says Lee, a fellow British-trained architect.

Apart from the new CNY installation, the Kwai Chai Hong lane is also a family-friendly area, with a host eateries to enjoy a meal and colourful mural walls depicting old Chinatown culture to view.

Admission is free to visit the Rise Of The Dragon installation.

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