CREATIVE PUZZLES OF THE WORLD
by PIETER VAN DELFT & JACK BOTERMANS, 1978
Known in China as Ryou-Kaik-Tjyo — the “delay guest instrument” — the meleda is one of the oldest mechanical puzzles in existence. Its origins are still unknown. According to Chinese legend it was invented by the soldier-hero Hung Ming (A.D. 181-234), who gave it to his wife when he went to war. In trying to solve the puzzle, she forgot to grieve for her husband.
Meleda first appeared in Europe in the mid-16th century and was described by the Italian mathematician Geronimo Cardano. In 1693 it was mentioned in an English book, and around that time it gained popularity in many European countries. Early examples are found in England and Scandinavia.
In Norway these puzzles have even been put to practical use, for they were found to be very effective luggage locks. Made of iron, meleda certainly warranted the alternative name “tiring irons”, a name which still persists. It would surely be a determined or desperate thief who could manage to open a trunk locked with this puzzle.
Meleda puzzles can be bought in toy and game shops in many countries. They are usually made of wood and aluminum and are often called Chinese rings or puzzling rings.