Stewart Cullin, the noted 19th-century ethnologist, relates that the puzzle was invented by the famous Chinese general Chu-ko Liang (AD 181–234), in the 2nd century, as a present to his wife so that, in trying to solve it, she would have something to do while he was away at the wars. However, this is anecdotal and its origins remain obscure. The earliest reference to it in Europe may be in about 1500 in the form of Problem 107 of the manuscript De Viribus Quantitatis by Luca Pacioli in which the description appears: "Do cavare et mettere una strenghetta salda in al quanti anelli saldi, difficil caso" (Remove and put a little bar joined in some joined rings, difficult case). It was also mentioned by Girolamo Cardano in the 1550 edition of his book De subtililate from which comes the name Cardan's rings, and was treated at length in mathematical terms by John Wallis in about 1685. By the end of the 17th century, it had become popular in many European countries. French peasants used it to lock chests and called it baguenaudier, or "time-waster."
Related category GAMES AND PUZZLES
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