• 魯班鎖結構繞線架<br /><b>Traditional Chinese yarn winder (burr construction)</b><br />Painted wood with carved figures and trapped balls<br />Shanxi Province; 19th-20th c.<br />18.4 x 18.4 x 18.4 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 06-029
  • 圖案取自童叶庚著《益智圖》<br/ ><b>Fifteen-piece tangram <i>(yizhi ban)</i> arrangement<br />from Tong Xiegeng’s <em>Enhancing intelligence diagrams (Yizhi tu)</em></b><br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection
  • 瓷製七巧調色盤<br /><b>Tangram paint dishes</b><br />Porcelain with colored enamels<br />Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province; Qing dynasty, 19th c.<br />10.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 72-043
  • 木製魯班球一組<br/ ><b>Burr puzzle balls <i>(Lu Ban suo)</i></b><br />Wood<br />China; 19th-20th c.<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection
  • 木製華容道<br/ ><b>Huarong Pass sliding block puzzle <i>(Huarong dao)</i></b><br />Wood<br />Shanghai; 1930s to 1950s<br />13.5 x 22.0 x 1.2 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 10-004
  • 《益智圖》童叶庚著<br/ ><b><em>Enhancing intelligence diagrams (Yizhitu)</em> by Tong Xiegeng</b><br />Two volumes, wood covers, lead pieces<br />Hangzhou; 1878<br />12.4 x 27.4 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 00-086
  • 竹木製魯班鎖結構筷子簍<br/ ><b>Traditional Chopsticks holder (burr construction)</b><br />Wood and bamboo<br />Shanxi Province; 19th-20th c.<br />52.0 x 40.0 x 22.0 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 06-006
  • 巧環 阮根全製作<br/ ><b>Ingenious rings wire puzzles <i>(qiao huan)</i></b><br />Crafted by Ruan Genquan<br />Copper wire<br />Wuxi, Jiangsu Province; 1998<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 40-001
  • 銀製九連環<br/ ><b>Nine linked rings / Chinese rings<i> (jiulianhuan)</i></b><br /><em>Baitong</em> (silver alloy)<br />China; 19th-20th c.<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 09-004<br /><br /><b>《小慧集》貯香主人著<br/ ><em>Little wisdoms</em> by Zhu Xiang Zhuren</b><br />Six volumes, cardboard case<br />[China]; [ca. 1821]<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 00-084
  • 圖案取自童叶庚著《益智圖》<br/ ><b><em>Dragon horse</em> 龍馬<br />from Tong Xiegeng’s <em> Enhancing intelligence diagrams (Yi zhi tu)</em></b><br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection
  • 畫琺瑯七巧果盤<br/ ><b>Tangram dishes</b><br />Canton enamel<br />Canton; Qing dynasty, 19th c.<br />33.0 x 33.0 x 1.8 cm<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 72-039
  • 外銷象牙製益智遊戲<br/ ><b>Games box and contents (made for export)</b><br />Lacquered wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, silk, brass<br />Canton; Qing dynasty, mid-19th c.<br /><em>Yi Zhi Tang</em> Collection 25-006

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Welcome to the World of Chinese Puzzles!

In China, traditional puzzles are called intelligence games and are valued as tools for training the mind in creative and logical thinking. Some puzzles (like tangram) are Chinese in origin, while others (like Huarong Pass) initially came from outside of China but have been transformed in ways that are uniquely Chinese.

VIDEO: Two puzzle enthusiasts travel to Suzhou
and enter the fascinating world of Chinese puzzles

Chinese rings, tangrams, wire puzzles and burr puzzles have been treasured by people from all walks of life. Scholars have written volumes exploring their intricacies. Members of the royal family gave puzzles as gifts and enjoyed playing with them on holidays. Young women from well-to-do families played with them to help pass the time. And common people enjoyed puzzle solving as an inexpensive form of entertainment.

In the past, puzzles were highly crafted and made of a wide variety of materials. And many were decorated with auspicious images for the puzzler to contemplate.

We invite you to explore this website, read short histories of Chinese puzzles, and view some of the beautiful antique puzzles from the Yi Zhi Tang collection.
 

Puzzle News

Martin Gardner Celebration of Mind

International Puzzle Party IPPMartin Gardner was the beloved Scientific American columnist who passed away in 2010. For 25 years his monthly “Mathematical Games” column was the leading forum for creative thought related to recreational mathematics and puzzles. On October 21, 2012, Martin’s admirers will gather around the world to celebrate his life and work and to continue his pursuit of a playful and fun approach to math, science, art, magic and puzzles. The Beijing celebration will take place on Sunday, October 21. Please RSVP to to reserve a space and for directions.
 

IPP Puzzle Design Winners

International Puzzle Party IPPThe results of the 2012 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition were announced at the International Puzzle Party (IPP) in Washington, DC. Congratulations to all of the prize winners!. Summaries, solution sheets, names of designers and purchasing information for available puzzles are all online here. To enter a puzzle in the 2013 competition, details are here.
 

Chinese Puzzles Exhibition Ends 10-Month Run

The exhibition Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind ran for ten months at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in New York’s Chinatown. Between November 2010 and September 2011, thousands of New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors enjoyed viewing the beautiful antique puzzles from the Yi Zhi Tang collection and playing with modern versions of them. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive announcements of future exhibitions.
 

Ruan Genquan Opens New Puzzle Shop in Wuxi

Ruan Genquan makes ingenious rings wire puzzlesMaster puzzle maker Ruan Genquan has a new puzzle shop at Huishan Ancient Town Park in Wuxi, a 50-minute train ride from Shanghai. In this photo, Ruan shows us 50 different types of ingenious rings puzzles he still makes at age 78, and he’s holding a 13 linked rings puzzle that takes 5461 moves to solve! Ruan’s daughter also has a puzzle stand in Wuxi, and his brother has one in Suzhou. If you’re planning to visit either city, email us at for directions.


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