Tangram History

Essay by Preci28University, Bachelor's June 2004

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Seven pieces stuck together in different formation to create figures from squares to rabbits. Who would have ever thought to connect these pieces together? It is not certain who came up with the original Tangram. "According to Samuel Loyd, the American puzzle expert, the God Tan invented the puzzle 4,000 years ago and described it in the Seven Books of Tan." (http://www.gvsu.edu/math/students/ps/mth341-page3.html). Each of the seven volumes of the Book of Tan contains more than one thousand puzzles that were to explain the creation of the world. "It is written that the seven pieces were taken from the sun, the moon and the five planets of Mars, Jupiter,

Saturn, Mercury and Venus." (http://www.gvsu.edu/math/students/ps/mth341-page3.html).

The root of the word Tangram has many explanations depending on who you ask. One thought involves the Tanka people who are often called the River People of China. They were great traders who were involved in the opium trade.

The western sailors they traded opium with likely played with the puzzle when they visited their Tanka girlfriends. "Others say that the Tangram is a corruption of the obsolete English word trangam, which meant a puzzle or trinket." (http://www.gvsu.edu/math/students/ps/mth341-page3.html). Some say that it may have been developed from the Tang Dynasty of China.

Tangram has been loved by many thru the years as entertainment, educational and mathematical tools. "Tangrams enjoyed a surge of interest during the 19th century in Europe and America. This, no doubt, was due to the opening up of trade with China and the aforementioned sailors bringing home new found amusements. The Chinese Puzzle spawned a flood of books and picture card sets." (http://tangrams.ca/inner/tanhist.htm). It is said that Pythagorean Theorem was discovered in the Orient with help of Tangram pieces. Lewis Carroll was reputed to have been a great fan...