This Rubik’s Cube inspired by the movable type is not only beautiful, but also works as a stamp and as a teaching tool for children!
To start off, let’s talk about the most distinct thing about this cube – the Chinese characters. You may have noticed that the cube’s faces are not all made up of the same symbol – rather, each face tells a different part of a story. This means that you need to memorize the text if you want to solve it.
If you fear you won’t be able to learn Chinese before you decide to play around with the cube, you can just make a print of the cube’s faces on a cheat sheet; the characters are raised so that the cube can be used as a stamp. That’s hardly cheating, though – you still have to solve the cube, and that’s the hardest part!
The text is from “The Three Character Classic”, a traditional Chinese piece written during the Song Dynasty. Until the 1800s, this text actually served as a typical child’s first formal education; it taught both ethical Confucian behaviour, as well as practical reading and speaking skills.
When you combine the value of the text’s morals with the cognitive development that a Rubik’s Cube induces, this is a perfect gift for any young child growing up today – assuming they’re Chinese. Come to think of it, it would be just as fun for kids who don’t know a word of Chinese, because they’ll have fun twisting it around and they won’t even get frustrated for not being able to figure out the puzzle!
Along with this piece of text, the Song Dynasty also produced the movable type, which features largely in this lovely piece of art. It’s interesting that the characters on the cube are not movable in the same way that movable type was, yet because the characters rotate around when you shuffle the cube, they are still movable. If you were familiar with the characters, it would be cool to recombine them in different ways and come up with your own stories.
I’d love to see a similar project done with the Latin alphabet, but it would be nearly impossible to execute; English, in particular, just isn’t the best language for writing 3-character prose. I suppose you could squish entire words onto one square, but then it would just lose the elegance of the original Movable Type Cube. The exotic alphabet does add to the aesthetic appeal of this cube.
Some other beautiful Rubik’s Cube designs include the Rubik’s Cube of Doom, which looks more like a found-art project than a puzzle, and the Pantone Rubik’s Cube, where each side is made up of colour swatch gradients.