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According to Chinese legend, the Lo Shu symbol was found on the shell of a sacred turtle in the 23^{rd} century BC. What is certain is that the square has great significance for Chinese mystics and many magical properties were associated with it.

The even numbers were identified with YIN, and female principle, and the odd numbers with YANG, the male principle. Notice that there is a symmetry in the arrangement of the odd and even numbers within the square.

The number 5 in the centre represents the earth. The four elements - fire, water, wood, metal - are represented by the combinations 2 and 7, 6 and 1, 8 and 3, 4 and 9 respectively which, as you see, move round the square. Notice that each of the combinations has balanced YIN (even number) and YANG (odd number) within it and that the difference between the numbers forming the pairs is always 5 - the number of the earth.

Mathematically, the Lo Shu is fascinating.

A "magic" square is a square arrangement of numbers so that the numbers in a row, column or corner diagonal all add to give the same sum. For the Lo Shu, the sum is 15. The Lo Shu is the smallest magic square and is the only possible arrangement of the 9 digits, apart from rotations and reflections.

Here are just some of the fascinating facts about the numbers within the Lo Shu:

- Notice that the opposite numbers always add to 10, i.e. 2 + 8, 6 + 4 etc. and that this is twice the number in the centre.
- Multiply the digits of each row together and add the 3 answers. Now multiply the digits in each column together and add the 3 answers. Notice anything?
- Write the digits of each row as 3-digit numbers and add them, i.e. 492 + 357 + 816 = 1665. Now write the digits of each column as 3-digits numbers and add them, i.e. 438 + 951 + 276 = 1665. Surprise! Notice that this even works if you write the Lo Shu numbers in reverse, i.e. 294 + 753 + 618 = 834 + 159 + 672, or even if you pick the digits in a different order, for example 429 + 375 + 861.

The Lo Shu has fascinated mystics and magicians for thousands of years. It contains many mysteries and, perhaps, some still to be discovered.

The tiles are 4" (100mm) square and the design is carved directly into the ceramic. The surface is finished with a beautiful lavender-colored, fully fired glaze. They are much thicker (8mm) than normal coasters so both look and feel substantial. They can also be used as coasters, since they all come with a thick cork backing to ensure they won't scratch a tabletop.

## Lo Shu Magic Square coaster - £12.50 |

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