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Shuttling the Celestial
The most common “wood-and-string puzzle” in ancient China were Ferrying the Celestial, Unlocking the Celestial and Shuttling the Celestial. These three types of puzzles have been recorded in the Collections of Ehuan Tricks published in the Qing Dynasty, and they were all developed based on studies of topology. The goal of Ferrying the Celestial is to draw together the two coins at both sides of the center hole. During the process, the coins have to somehow pass through the center hole, whose diameter is smaller than that of the coins. It was believed that only celestial beings could complete this impossible task, which is where it derives its name.
Beginners might think solving this puzzle is physically impossible. However, once they get the knack of it, they will discover that it takes a few simple steps to achieve the goal. It doesn’t require being a celestial to solve the puzzle. The head-scratching fun and sense of achievement is what makes this game so intriguing.
National Digital Archives Program—UEPlay Digital Museum -Intellectual Games