antedating of tangram (1855-56) (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 10 02:30:16 UTC 2007

My word! Thank you much for that well-documented elucidation.

m a m

On 9/6/07, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
> 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.

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