The 8th Book of Tan by Sam Loyd

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They speak a strictly monosyllabic language in China, and the same is written by a series of arbitrary word-signs, without attempt at alphabetical spelling; so, although it has been shown that the seven tangrams may be combined to form the rudimental words, there is practically no attempt at letter-press description in the original books. It is plain, however, that there is a certain illustrative narrative, which, from the humorous postures, would suggest popular proverbs or fables rather than historical incidents. Be that as it may, however, according to Professor Challenor, such things pertained to unwritten legendry, and were irretrievably lost ages ago. He held that the same was of no great importance, and he aimed merely to revive the educational features of the work, which of necessity requires a certain modernizing of the whole scheme. As explanatory of the reference to illustrated fables we present the following up-to-date rendering of the famous nursery rhyme about

" The farmer who sowed the corn,

That fed the cock that crowed in the morn,

That woke the priest all shaven and shorn,

That married the man all tattered and torn,

That kissed the maiden all forlorn,

That milked the cow with crumpled horn,

That tossed the dog that worried the cat,

That killed the rat that ate the malt

That lay in the house that Vanderbilt."

Sam Loyd's Illustration #39

We might also, by a slight effort of the imagination, amuse a group of children with a recital of the ever-popular story of Cinderella and the little glass slipper, with Tangram illustrations. Commencing, as shown, with the fireplace, Cinderella, the haughty sisters, the kind fairy, what might serve in a pinch for a pumpkin, the rat coachman, the little slipper, and finally the handsome prince doing a stately minuet with the heroine. The coach, horses, etc., are shown later on.

Sam Loyd's Illustration #40

From a puzzlist's standpoint it would seem but fair to have the Tangrams drawn to a uniform scale of size, and modern publishers make the error of attempting to improve upon the Chinese plan. By so doing they eliminate the invaluable study of geometry which trains the eye to judge of the ratio of one piece to another, instead of solving puzzles by mechanical measurements of the lengths of the sides.

Artists who sketch from nature will best appreciate the feature of reducing in correct proportion where measurements are impossible.

Tangrams were never designed to be drawn upon a specified scale of size. Each design is to be made with a set of seven pieces which fit together to form a perfect square, but the pictures are not of the same size. By this means the Chinese conception of perspective is faithfully represented. They use flat colors or tints, and depend entirely upon the different sizes of the objects to represent distance. If such was not the case, in the story of the house that Jack built the cock that crowed in the morn would look bigger that the cow with crumpled horn, and the house would be smaller than the malt.

Sam Loyd's Illustration #41

There are certain characteristics of form and action in animals and birds which may be studied to advantage by practice with Tangrams, and I have yet to discover any subject which cannot be fairly shown by the seven magic pieces. Some may be a little crude perhaps, but, if space permitted, it would be a simple matter to illustrate the entire list as given in the familiar rhyme of Noah's ark, where

"Old father Noah he built an ark,

And covered it over with hickory bark.


The animals walked in two by two,

The elephant and the kangaroo.


The animals walked in three by three,

Two cats arm in arm with a humble bee.


The animals walked in four by four,

The big rhinoceros stuck in the door.


The animals walked in five by five,

The queen bee leading the rest of her hive.


The animals walked in six by six,

The squirrels and bunnies full of their tricks.


The animals walked in seven by seven,

Says the bug to the bear : "Who are yer shovin"?"


The animals walked in eight by eight,

Butted on by a goat, "cause he thought they were late.


The animals walked in nine by nine,

The apes kicking up a big monkey shine.


The animals walked in ten by ten,

The fox with his eye on a big fat hen."

Sam Loyd's Illustration #42

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  • Geometrical shapes

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • Letters, Numbers & Signs

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • People

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • Animals

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • Usual objects

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • Boats

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert


  • Miscellaneous

   Tangram difficulty levels:     Easy     Medium     Hard     Expert