The Tangram (also known as "Seven Boards Of Skill", "7 Tricky Pieces", "7 Clever Pieces", and "Chinese Puzzle") is a dissection puzzle
consisting of 7 flat shapes, called TANS, which are put
together to form shapes. The objective of
the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette)
using all seven pieces
(pieces may not
overlap). It is reputed to have
been invented in
China during the Song Dynasty (was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and
continued until 1279),
and then carried over to Europe by trading ships in the
century. It became very
popular in Europe for a time then, and then again during World War I.
It is one of the most
popular dissection puzzles in the world. A Chinese psychologist has termed the Tangram "the earliest
psychological test in the world", albeit one made for entertainment rather
than for analysis.
The Tangram challenges the puzzler to produce a given silhouette using all 7 pieces.
This Tangram set includes 2 sets of the 7 wooden pieces Tangram (Total of 14 wood pieces) and 64 glossy silhouette cards. Each card showing on one side the silhouette you can try and build, and the solution on the other side, and will provide different challenges and hours upon hours of quality entertainment and fun for the entire family.
The Tangram had
already been around in China for a long time when it was first brought to
America by Captain M. Donnaldson, on his ship, Trader, in 1815. When it
docked in Canton, the captain was given a pair of Tangram books (by author Sang-Hsia-koi‘s). They were then brought
with the ship to Philadelphia, where it docked in February 1816. The first Tangram book to be published
in America was based on the pair brought by Donnaldson.
The puzzle was originally popularized by The
Eighth Book Of Tan,
a fictitious history of Tangram, which claimed that
the game was invented 4,000 years prior by a god named Tan. The puzzle eventually
reached England, where it became very fashionable. The craze quickly spread to other European countries, this was mostly due to a
pair of British Tangram books, The
Fashionable Chinese Puzzle, and the accompanying solution book, Key. Soon, Tangram sets were being
exported in great number from China, made of various materials, from glass, to
wood, to tortoise shell.
Many of these unusual and
exquisite Tangram sets made their way to Denmark. Danish interest in Tangrams skyrocketed around
1818, when two books on the puzzle were published. The first of these was Mandarinen (About the
Chinese Game). This was written by a student at Copenhagen University, which was a non-fictional
work about the history and popularity of Tangrams. The second, Det nye chinesiske Gaadespil (The new
Chinese Puzzle Game), consisted of 339 puzzles copied from The
Eighth Book of Tan,
as well as one original.
One contributing factor
in the popularity of the game in Europe was that although the Catholic Church
forbade many forms of
recreation on the Sabbath, they made no
objection to puzzle games such as the Tangram. Tangrams were
first introduced to the German public by industrialist Friedrich Adolf Richter around 1891. The
sets were made out of stone, and marketed under the
name "The Anchor Puzzle“.
More internationally, the
First World War saw a great resurgence of interest in Tangrams, on the homefront and trenches of both
sides. During this time, it occasionally went under the name of "The Sphinx" an alternative title
for the "Anchor Puzzle" sets.