antedating of tangram (1855-56) (UNCLASSIFIED)

sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Thu Sep 6 23:24:46 UTC 2007

>Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
>Caveats: NONE
>Jerry Slocum has worked out the history of the game, and the word:
>>>From a short review (
>Jerry Slocum, with the help of an international team, has tracked down
>much origin and history for The Tangram Book.  A precursor was the Sei
>Shonagon's Wisdom Plates, shown below (the pieces make a square in two
>different ways.) The Tangram was invented between 1796 and 1802 in China
>by Yang-cho-chu-shih.  He published the book Ch'i ch'iao t'u (Pictures
>using seven clever pieces).  The first European publication of Tangrams
>was in 1817. The word Tangram itself was coined by Dr. Thomas Hill in
>1848 for his book Geometrical Puzzles for the Young.  He became the
>president of Harvard in 1862, and also invented the game Halma.  Jerry
>tracked down the sets owned by Poe, Napoleon, and others.   Martin
>Gardner: "This will surely be the classic reference on the topic for
>many decades to come."
>So it would appear that the puzzle, as we now understand it, goes back
>about 200 years, and the word to 1848.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: American Dialect Society
>> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Mark Mandel
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 9:51 PM
>> Subject: Re: antedating of tangram (1855-56)
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: antedating of tangram (1855-56)
>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>> -----------------
>> I recall reading in a book about mathematical puzzles that
>> tangrams were less Chinese in origin than chop suey, i.e.,
>> not at all. I'll try to remember or find the book.
>> m a m
>> On 9/4/07, Stephen Goranson <goranson at> wrote:
>> >
>> > OED has 1864 for this Chinese geometrical puzzle.
>> >
We knew this puzzle as "Chee Chow"  back before WWII.  It was only in
recent years that I learned the "Tangram" designation.

~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>

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