Saturday, 24 August 2013

Chinese Cricket Box

Name
Chinese Cricket Box

Solved state deliberately not shown in photos here
Type & Classification
Puzzle Box; Trick Opening

Dimensions
8.9cm (Length) x 5.8cm (Width) x 1.8cm (Thick).

Materials & Construction
Wood, glass and plastic. The box is made of a type o exotic hardwood and overall, the box is very well made and feels sturdy and solid.

Overview
As the name implies, a cricket box is a box for keeping crickets. In ancient China, there was a tradition of keeping crickets as pets. This in turn spawned (no pun intended) a whole industry of making cricket boxes, containers and homes for cricket lovers. However not all cricket boxes (or cages) were puzzle boxes with trick openings. For more information on cricket keeping during early Chinese history, click here.

I obtained this nice little black cricket puzzle box from Wil Strijbos during the IPP33 Puzzle Party in early August this year. Wil had brought with him a whole shoe box size of cricket boxes which he had sourced from China, of varying shapes, colours and designs.

The box I have is essentially a wooden box with rounded and patterned edges. The top cover is made of glass and the bottom has a number of Chinese characters. There is also a rectangular air hole on one of the ends of the box. The object of the box is to figure out how to "open" the box. It took me a couple of minutes of fiddling before I got the box opened.


Difficulty Level
It is certainly not difficult by any means but because the box is well constructed with tight tolerances, it can make it a bit tricky to solve. Different boxes also have varying opening mechanisms. Frans de Vreugd has written an entire book on Chinese cricket boxes. I flipped through a sample copy at IPP33; very nice with loads of detailed photographs (please PM me via my Profile Email should you wish to contact Frans to purchase a copy). There is also a video on YouTube which shows the opening of a couple of cricket boxes but this video is a spoiler, so be warned.

Summary
If you like trick boxes, well this is something certainly to consider, given that the box is associated with an interesting history.

3 comments:

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  2. Jerry: I bought a couple of cricket boxes last week in HK - but can't figure out if the inlays on one are ivory - any way of telling? They are very nice pieces of work.

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    Replies
    1. Pete, I can't answer this question as I am not serious collector of cricket boxes, perhaps you may want to contact Frans de Vreugd who authored the book on cricket boxes as show in my blog post. I will try to find his email for you.

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