Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 21:15:32 -0500
Subject: Tangrams

Do you know the story behind the tangram? I know that it is a Chinese puzzle about 200 years old. If there is a story about its creation, I would love to share it with my 7th graders. Thanks.

Math Teacher

Hi Allison,

Here is a reply from Diane.
  The only story I know is that a chinese worker was carrying a newly made tile and dropped in on the floor. It broke into those 7 pieces and he tried to restore it to its original shape but had trouble. That's why some teachers always start by having students make their own pieces from a square. I have seen teachers use the first quadrant to dictate to their students the dimensions of the square and various lines.  
An internet search yielded one of the pages at the "Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching" that states
  The origins of the tangram puzzle are not known with any certainty, but the idea is thought to have originated in China about 250 years ago.  
There are also some historical notes at Something interesting at this site is a photograph of "tangram shaped" Chinese candy dishes made in the 19th century.


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