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Features – Themes

The full package of Four Winds 2 comes with 12  themes (alternative graphics and sound schemes). The game also supports user-defined themes – a free utility, Theme Editor, is available for facilitating creation of themes. The alternative themes can be downloaded  from the download pages.

Themes with traditional tile sets

The following six themes use traditional Mah Jong tile sets.

Four Winds – The default theme of Four Winds 2 is inspired by a painting in Japanese Mah Jong Museum depicting ladies playing Mah Jong. (The painting can be seen in Jim May's  Mahjong Museum – Click Paintings/Photos and click  #219 Painting of Women playing Mah Jong.)

The tile set is based on a traditional Chinese ivory set from the 1920's ("#168 Genuine Ivory" in the tile set collection of Mahjong Museum). The picture in the background of the Scores dialog box is a detail from Chao Po-chό's (1125–1160) Landscape and palace (ink and color on silk).

Bakelite – An example of a theme that uses only solid colors and no textured surfaces. The colors are dimmed basic colors that resemble early plastic materials like bakelite.

The tile set is based on Bakelite #005, described in Mahjong Museum.

Bamboo – The 'theme utilizes bamboo and rice paper as materials for the game board.

The tile set represents a traditional Chinese set from the 1920's. The design is based on the Sacramento tile set described in Mahjong Museum

Cardboard – A theme constructed of different kinds of cardboards and hand made papers.

The tile set represents a typical American tile set of 1930's. The design is based on Bakelite #005 described in Mahjong Museum, but the face side of the tiles, being originally bakelite, is replaced with plywood.

Four Winds Classic – The tiles in the theme represent a typical classical tile set with a bamboo back, the face side being simplified to be easily readable on any computer screen. The Flowers are represented by a plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo, and Seasons by a fisher, woodcutter, farmer and scholar.

The board is decorated with wooden ornaments often used in wall panel decoration. The green color in in the background and in the buttons is selected to create a feeling of jade. The fibered paper in the Scores dialog box background was a self-evident choice.

Sakura – A theme that uses colors of a cherry tree.  Background graphics is based on a painting (ink and color on silk) by an unknown Chinese painter from the 12th or 13th century. The background in the Scores dialog box shows a detail of Ma Yόan's (12th century) Birds in Winter, ink on silk.

The tile set represents a common modern tile set made completely of plastic. 


Themes with non-traditional tile sets

The following six themes use non-traditional Mah Jong tile sets, but each theme has also a specific traditional tile set designed to fit the theme. If you find it difficult to play with non-traditional tile sets, you can use a theme-specific traditional tile set (or any other of the several alternative tile sets that come with the program), instead. User -defined alternative tile bitmaps are supported, as well.

Astronomy – A theme inspired by astronomy and simple beauty of planets and stellar systems.

The Bamboos are represented by the first nine signs of the Zodiac (the remaining three being depicted by the Dragons), the Characters by the planetary symbols and the Dots by the nine planets of our own solar system. 

The Dragons are depicted by fragments of the Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricornius stellar systems and their correspondent Zodiac signs. The Winds are represented by four phases of the Moon. The four Flowers are depicted by pictures of galaxies and nebulae and the four Seasons by  solar images in four different wavelengths. 

The player bitmap is represented by a portrait of the famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). 

The game board shows an astronomical  chart and the Scores dialog box an image manipulation of the surface of the Moon. The remaining graphic elements are shiny metallic surfaces, creating an atmosphere of space technology.

Bauhaus – Bauhaus was the leading design school in Europe between the First and Second World War. Its influence can still be seen in modern design. Red square, blue circle and yellow triangle are often used as symbols for Bauhaus.

The theme is mostly a tribute to Bauhaus but not completely without irony. The sound for going out is an extract from a song by Finnish underground artist M. A. Numminen. The lyrics, Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent, are taken from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, a contemporary of the Bauhaus movement.

The board layout and colors create a feeling of simplicity based on ideals in modernistic architecture as well as in industrial and graphic design. The sounds create a feeling of industry and modern mass production.

The flower and season tiles represent four famous Bauhaus teachers and fragments of their works. 1. Walter Gropius, 2. Josef Albers, 3. Paul Klee and 4. Mies van der Rohe.

Egypt – A theme inspired by the ancient Egypt. The figure on the game board is a pastiche of the wooden inner coffin of the Libyan Pasenhor.

The symbols on the tiles are mostly hieroglyphs. The Bamboos being represented by a lotus flower, Characters by a symbol of 'million' (or 'multitude', equivalent to the Chinese symbol of 'wan') and Dots by a glyph symbolizing sun. Numbers on the Character suit are hieratic numerals. 

The Dragons are symbols of power, the Green Dragon being represented by a sandal trap ('ankh', the Key of Life), Red Dragon by a crook (a spectre symbolizing government) and White Dragon by a Shen Ring (representing the idea of eternity). The winds bear hieroglyphs signifying East, South, West and North.

Flowers are depicted by hieroglyphs representing Papyrus, Lotus, Herb, and a flowering Sedge, and Seasons by four royal animals: Scarab (a dung beetle, a symbol of the sun god). Uraeus (a cobra, also associated with the sun god, royals and several deities), Falcon (symbolizing Horus, the god of sky and light), and Dog (symbolizinig Anubis, the god of the underworld and dead).

The background of the Scores dialog box is a picture manipulation of reliefs on the sarcophagus of Queen Ashayet (early 11th Dynasty, Cairo Museum).

Navigare –  A theme based on marine navigation. The tiles depict the lateral and cardinal marks and special buoys used in the international aids to navigation system IALA A. The numbers on suit tiles are represented by the signal flags.

The Flowers and Seasons are depicted by early Finnish marine marks (known as 'kummeli', 'kaasa', 'sauvamerkki' and 'pooki') and lighthouses. The joker is represented by the Pellinki lighthouse that has become known to posterity for being the model for Tove Jansson's (1914–2001) Moomin house. 

The map of the main game board is a detail of a 18th century Russian sea chart and the background of the Scores dialog box depicts the harbour of Haapasaari island nearby the city of Kotka in the Eastern part of Finnish Gulf.

Origami – A theme inspired by the Japanese art of Origami and package design of the German painter and sculptor Michael Klein. 

The tile faces are depicted by traditional Origami models. The Bamboos are represented by folding instructions for a flat tulip, the Characters by instructions for a swan and dots by instructions for a cube. The Dragons are represented by samersaulting horses, the Winds by windmills and the joker by a blank sheet of paper. 

The Flowers are origami versions of a Plum, Orhcid, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo. The player bitmap is depicted by a crane.

Prehistoric – The Prehistoric theme mixes freely (without any scholarly consideration) prehistoric and ancient visual elements.

The picture on the game board and in the background of the Scores dialog box is an extract of rock paintings of Jabbaren, Tassil.

The Bamboos are depicted by an arrow, the Characters by an extended swastika, an ancient symbol for good fortune (the original Chinese term for Characters, "wan", actually also means "swastika"), and the Dots by a wheel. 

The Winds are based on the use of an ancient symbol for a fixed star and a straight line attached to it, indicating the orientation.

Number symbols on the Character suit are based on Stone age symbols. The Flowers are depicted by images of fossils. The Seasons are based on ancient astronomical symbols.

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