Monday, January 23, 2012

YUAN tangle instructions


I've always like those old Chinese coins with the square hole in the center. The hole helped keep the coins together as they could be strung on a cord or ribbon. When our youngest daughter finished high school and all three daughters had plans, my husband and I went to China for two years to teach English. They don't use coins with holes in them anymore but I bought a small handful of old ones at a street market. The yuán is the unit of currency in China, thus the name of this tangle.

Photo courtesy of

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The Yuán dynasty was founded by Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan, who was the first to unite all China as we now know it. At its peak the dynasty's territory surpassed 12 million square kilometers (4,633,226 square miles for Americans) and ranged from Siberia in the north to the South China Sea, from the Pacific Ocean to the Middle East. Kublai Khan was a ruthless conqueror (weren't they all?) but he was also a great supporter of science, was interested in various religions, commissioned the design of a Mongolian script - until then strictly an oral language - and headed the first government in the world to institute paper currency.
Tangles: Caviar, Festune, Flux, Lotus Pods, Miranda, Prestwood, Yuan

In 1271, at the age of 17, Marco Polo left Italy and travelled overland with his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo - who were gem merchants - to the near and far east. Marco stayed in China for 17 years in the employ of Kublai Khan and was one of very few Europeans to witness first-hand that traditional period in China.
Tangles: Caviar, Chebucto, Crescent Moon, Gingham, Lacing, Snookums, Triangle, Yuan

Here's how to draw Yuan. I admit to using a circle template when drawing the instructions, but if you look at the examples you'll notice that the squares and circles can be quite off-center and still have the desired effect! It seems to end up rather larger than I expect it will; just a heads up. If you want to pronounce yuán correctly in Chinese, with the rising tone, say it as if you're asking a question: yuan?

A few of pointers:
- In step one, the spaces between the long rectangles should be about half as long as the rectangles themselves.
- In step two, the small black rectangles on either side of the long rectangle indicate a square. Just keep that in mind.
- In this case, two pictures are worth about forty-eight words.

Tangles: Blake, Lotus Pods, Prestwood, Shattuck, Yuan
Blake is newly named. I used and mentioned Bettie Lake's 'ribbons' in an earlier post (third tile). I contacted her recently to ask if this pattern had a name and, if not, might I suggest "Blake"? It didn't, and she agreed. :-)
So today, also introducing the tangle Blake! Here it is in brown on a bookmark I made recently.


  1. I really like how your tiles look with your new tangle Yuan. Thanks for the new tangle and a little history mixed in too.

    Blake looks like a fun tangle, I will have to try it out and try using brown when tangling too. :)

  2. This is a cute pattern. Quite a nice collection of the Chinese Coins.

  3. Played with this tangle some last night...very fun!

  4. Refreshingly different. I never would have figured out how you did it without the step-outs. Thank you!