The suits of the tiles used in Majiang are money-based. In ancient China, the copper coins had a square hole in the center. The Chinese would pass a rope through the holes to tie coins into strings.
These strings are usually in groups of 100 coins called diao or 1000 coins called guan. Majiang's connection to the ancient Chinese currency system is also consistent with its alleged derivation from a game called ma diao.
When a hand received the maximium allowed for winning of a round, it is called man guan or full string of coin.)
A Majiang game is described in the book "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" written by Agatha Christie, ending with the very unusual event of a player getting a complete winning hand on the initial draw. This success makes the character unduly talkative, which leads to significant plot developments.
British super spy James Bond played a dangerous game of Majiang in a suspense novel written by Raymond Benson entitled "Zero Minus Ten".
In the 1940 film "Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise", the title character remarks, "In China, Majiang very simple; in America very complex - like modern life".
The Chinese character that translates to "Red Dragon" is a major plot point of the movie entitled Manhunter and its 2002 remake, which was aptly titled "Red Dragon". The character is also found on the super-hero suit worn by The Greatest American Hero (ABC, 1981-83).
Majiang was featured in Amy Tan's novel entitled "The Joy Luck Club", and its 1993 film adaptation.
Majiang has appeared, in one way or another, in Hong Kong made movies or TV drama, since it is considered as part of the "daily life" of Chinese lifestyle. Two recent Cantonese movies, Fat Choi Spirit and Kung Fu Majiang, parody the game's subculture.