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   It is readily apparent that the 21 individual domino pieces represent the
   possible throws with 2 dice, and that the domino pieces may be regarded as
   conjoined dice. Of this the Korean dominoes furnish the best material evidence.
   Consonant with many other Korean objects, they are typical of an earlier age of
   Chinese culture than that now existing in China.

   Their material, color of spots, and the manner in which the "one" spots are
   incised and made larger than the other shots, complete their resemblance to 2
   conjoined dice. If we accept this theory the bone faced bamboo dominoes may be
   regarded as directly related to the preceding,  (Page 533) the wooden backs
   being substituted as a matter of economy.

   Dominoes made entirely of wood would naturally follow, and the long dominoes
   used in the south of China might be regarded as a later type. Even they bear a
   suggestion of their origin in the spots with which their ends and tops are

   The names of the dominoes are the same as those of the corresponding throws with
   the 2 dice, and the pieces are divided, like the dice-throws, into the series of
   man and m, in which they rank in the same order as the dice. The correspondence
   extends to the game as well, the most characteristic domino game, t t'n kau,
   closely resembling the most characteristic dice game, chk t'n kau. Indeed, if
   dominoes are invented for the purpose of a game, they doubtless had their origin
   in the game with 2 dice. This game with 2 dice, shung luk, which, according to
   one Chinese authority, is said to have come from India, finds a parallel in an
   Indian dice game.

   Figure 26 Several kinds of dice are employed in games in India. One (Figure 24)
   called pase (plural of pasa) are used in the game called chausar, and consists
   of rectangular bone or ivory prisms, marked on 4 sides with 1, 2,  5, and 6
   spots. These dice are sometimes made shorter and pointed at the ends (Figure
   25). Their origin I assign to the staves referred to on page 507.

   Figure 27 Another kind of Indian dice, called by the Arabic name of k'ab, or
   kabat, from k'ab, "ankle," "ankle bone," are used in the game of k'abatain, 2
   dice being thrown. Either natural astragali, consisting of the knuckle bones of
   a goat, or dice marked on 4 sides with "three," "four," "one," and "six " spots,
   or cubical dice regularly marked on the 6 sides (Figure 27) are employed. The
   "four" spots on these dice are usually marked in red, and often both the "three"
   and four" are marked in this color.1

   Thus cubical dice appear to be (Page 534) directly connected with the knuckle
   bones. The Arabic name for the knuckle bone and the die is the same, k'ab, and,
   like the knuckle bones, which are commonly thrown in pairs, natural pairs from
   the right and left leg being used, cubical dice are also thrown in pairs.
   Carrying out the resemblance, cubical dice in India are sold in pairs, and by
   varying the arrangement of the "threes" and "fours"2 are actually made in pairs,
   rights and lefts, like the knuckle bones.

   Figure 28 If this is the true history of the descent of the cubical dotted die,
   its evolution must have occurred at a very early time, as the regularly marked
   stone die from the Greek colony of Naucratis, Egypt (Figure 28), assigned by the
   discoverer, Mr. Flinders Petrie to 600 BC, bears witness.

                                                        ANCIENT ROMAN DICE OF IVORY

                From Specimens in Museum of University of Pennsylvania

   Now, the 4 sides of the knuckle bone (talus) (Figure 30), which were designated
   among the Romans as supinum, pronum, planum, and tortuosum, and correspond with
   the numbers "three," "four," "one," and " six,"  receive in the Mohammedan East
   the names of ranks and conditions of men. The Persians, according to Dr. Hyde,3
   name them, respectively, duzd "slave" dihban "peasant," vezir "viceroy," and
   shah, or padi-shah "king."

                             FOUR SIDES OF A KNUCKLE BONE

                                      after Hyde

   Similar names are given by the same author as applied to them by the Arabs,
   Turks, and Armenians. From this it appears that the names and rank given to the
   significant throws, "three," "four," "one," and "six," with knuckle bones and
   dice in western Asia find their counterparts in the names and rank of the same
   throws in China, the names of the classes of human society found among the Arabs
   being replaced in China with the terms for the cosmic powers: "Heaven" ("six"),
   "Earth" ("one"), and "Man" ("four"), and the "Harmony" ("three-one"), that
   unites them.

   Figure 31 It will also be observed that the use of 2 dice, which appears to
   follow that of the natural pair of knuckle bones, and is displayed in the Indian
   k'abatain, and the ancient and widely diffused game of backgammon, is paralleled
   by the use of 2 dice in China, where sheung luk (Japanese, sugoroku) (Page 535)
   is a common name for dice play. It has been observed  that the "threes" and
   "fours" are marked n red on Indian dice while in China the "ones" and "fours"
   are so marked. The Wak kan sai relates that in the game of Sugoroku the throws
   receive the following names:
     * Chio ichi, "double one."
     * Chio ni, "double two."
     * Shiu san, "vermilion three."
     * Shin sh, "vermilion four."
     * Chio go, "double five."
     * Chio roku, "double six."

   From this it would appear that the dice anciently used in Japan and China had
   the "three" and "four" marked in red^4 like the Indian k'abat, instead of the
   "one" and "four", as in present custom - an additional argument in favor of the
   Indian origin of the Chinese dice. Two questions remain to be answered.  (Page

   Figure 32 Where and for what purpose were the dice-throws united in the domino
   form, and why was the number of the domino pieces increased from 21 to 32.
   Dominoes are unknown in India as a native game, but as it seemed possible that
   they might have had their origin there for use in fortune telling, the writer
   made a careful examination of the principal East Indian systems of fortune
   telling with dice, but the results did not throw any light upon the origin of
   dominoes.5 The Tibetan astrologers, according to Schlagintweit,6 use dice which
   are either cubes like European ones, or rectangular parallelopipedons, sometimes
   comparatively very long; the latter, in consequence of their form, laving two
   sides blank. This description agrees with the preceding Indian dice used in
   fortune telling, which I regard as derived from the game with staves, but the
   faces of a die (Figure 32), which Schlagintweit  figures as used by the Tibetans
   for astrological purposes, suggests a domino in the duplication of its spots.7

   Figure 33 The astrological associations of the domino game have not thrown light
   as yet upon the question of its origin. They have been referred to in connection
   with the method of telling fortunes, and it has been observed that the disks
   accompanying the bamboo dominoes from Fuhchau bear the names of the cyclical
   animals. It will also be noticed that the terms n and ngng, "weak" and
   "strong," applied to the pairs in the game of k'ap t'i shap, p. 513, are the
   same as those used to designate the broken and undivided lines in the Yik King,
   and that (Page 537) the diagram (Figure 33)8 which is given by Legge^9 as the
   accepted form of the Lok Sh, or "Lo writing," which is referred to in the Yik
   King as one of the sources of inspiration for its broken and undivided lines,10
   is composed of light and dark circles similar to the domino dots.

   I may suggest, in conclusion, that dominoes may have been first used as counters
   or tallies in a dice game or in a method of fortune telling with dice. They
   existed in their present form in China in the year 1120 AD, according to the
   Chinese records, with similar astrological associations as at the present day.
   They are clearly descended from dice, and particularly from that game with two
   dice which appears to have been introduced into China from western Asia.

    1. This account of k'ab was communicated to the writer by the Hon. Syad
       Mohamed Hadi, of Sultanpur, India. Two sets of ivory dice, received by the
       writer from Lucknow, are cubical, and marked on their 6 sides with from 1 to
       6 spots, in the same manner as our common dice. The "fours" alone are in
    2. If a Chinese die be turned ace up and revolved toward the person holding it
       so that the "two," "three," and "six" are disclosed in succession, it will
       be found that the "three" is usually to the left and the "four" to the
       right, while the opposite is more usually the case on European dice. In the
       Indian dice here referred to, this arrangement is alternate, one having a
       "three"  on the right and the other on the left.
    3. De Ludis Orientalibus, p. 147.
    4. A pair of miniature Japanese ivory dice, presented to the writer by Prof.
       Henry H. Giglioli, of  Florence, Italy, have the "threes" and "fours" marked
       in red.
    5. Report of the Proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian 'Society of
       Philadelphia, 1890-91, p. 65.
    6. Buddhism in Thibet, London, 1863, p. 315.
    7. Col. W.W. Rockhill informs me that he never saw dice used in Tibet except
       for fortune telling. According to Col. Rockhill, the Tibetan name fur dice
       is sho, and a person who throws dice, mo jyab ken. He tells me that he
       always saw four dice used m Tibet and North China. These dice have no "six."
       There is a picture of the god Pal-dan-hlamlo holding a bag of dominoes or
       dice in the superb Tibetan collection deposited by him in the US National
    8. This diagram coincides with the most renowned of the arithmetical squares
       which are used as charms both by Hindus and Mohammedans in India. It is
       usually written as below, an inversion of the Chinese arrangement.

                                       6  1  8
                                       7  5  3
                                       2  9  4
       This square appears in its numerical form on the Tibetan charts, reproduced
       by Shlagintweit, where it is arranged in the Chinese order. It is believed
       in India, said one of my Mohammedan informants, that to write this charm
       will bring good luck and money by honest means. The object for which it is
       used is always written beneath it. He told me that his grandfather wrote it
       every day after prayers and would place beneath it the words rizk, "bread."
       or chardj, "expenses." Such numbered diagrams are cut in squares, each
       containing a number. These are made into pills with wheaten bread and thrown
       into a pond or river to be eaten by fish. Another Indian, a Hindu, says that
       this magic square is called in Hindustani Pundra no yuntra, or the "15
       yuntra." It is written both with numerals and with dots. In the latter case
       the set of dots from 1 to 9 frequently are made each of a different color
       and certain names are given to them.
       It is not improbable that this diagram was borrowed by the Chinese from
       India, and that, too, at a much later period than is usually assigned to it
       by the Chinese. The writer found a copy of it - in Arabic numerals, among
       the written charms in a soldier's kit captured in Tonquin - in the Municipal
       Museum of the city of Havre. The spots, like those on the dice, are
       doubtless survivals of a primitive system of notation, like that which
       existed in Mexico at the time of the Conquest.
    9. Legge, Rev. Dr. James, The Y King, Oxford, Introduction, p. 18.
   10. Ibid., Appendix III, Sec. 1 par. 73.

   Last update August 14, 2001 by


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