The 8th Book of Tan by Sam Loyd
The successive stages of development would seem to indicate that our great-grandfather, after sporting in the guise of tadpoles, skimmers, eels, and lobsters, evolved through a school of fishes, just as tangible as that described by Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland," and made his début upon land in the form of a tortoise:
After sporting in the form of insects, birds, and animals, through progressive chains of evolutions which savor of pagan mythology, the connecting link of our ancestral baboon is strongly in evidence, as shown in the fraternal greeting of the monkey man:
It is worthy of note that the Rev. Dr. Holt says, in his recently published interview, that Chinese research has "caused many philosophers to speculate as to whether the cosmogonies and theologies of the western nations did not originate in the Orient."
That everything emanates from God Tan, and is endowed with the "seven attributes," to say the least, is unique and logical, for each figure being constructed out of the same seven pieces makes the transition from one to another an easy one. The remarkable fact of each piece being susceptible of subdivision into a set of smaller tangrams, and that any figure may be built larger by the addition of extra sets, is held to represent the principle of growth in nature, as well as the problem of infinity, somewhat according to Dean Swift's famous interpretation :
We are then introduced to a number of crude and misshapen figures of men and women, which, through a gradual change of forms and fashions of costumes, develop into graceful posings and groups, which display considerable artistic ability and sense of humor. Many of the designs, supposed to be illustrative of the advancement of the human race, are weird centaur-looking combinations with different animals, possibly representing connecting links of evolution, with which the ancients were more familiar than the present generation. In three instances are to be found the combination of a goose or duck with what has been taken to be a flying squirrel, probably to show a certain connection between water, air, and earth.
Here are the first four representations of the human race, followed by others which show a gradual improvement in form.
That these primitive and imperfect representations of men and animals are purposely crude and distorted in self-evident from the fact of their being reproduced afterward with a perfection and regard for the details and characteristics of the subjects which challenges our admiration.
The theory of the connection links between the various forms of life clearly antedates Darwin, Haeckel, and Huxley by some thousands of year, just as in a similar way it can be proven that Archimedes, Pythagoras, and Euclid must have known of the second book of Tan, which deals largely in matters of trigonometry and geometry in a way that clearly anticipates the claims of those great mathematicians.
The famous 47th problem of Euclid, known as Pons Asinorum, and the familiar illustrations of hexagons, triangles, rhomboids, and polygons, are identical with the second book of Tan.
It is well known that one of Euclid's books, which is said to have been lost, was devoted to fallacies, tricks, and impossible problems, for the pupils to detect the errors. The greater part of the second book of Tan is built upon similar surprises or illusions of a subtle nature. Many of these problems are intentionally impossible of solution, or at least beyond the ability of the writer, while others are given on a deceptive scale of size which misleads the eye. There is also a curious trick connected with many of the forms, necessitating the turning over of the rhomboid piece, which is very tantalizing. It may be said incidentally that the antiquity or position of some of the designs can be approximately determined by these tricky features, which occur only in the first two books.