A Beginner’s Guide to Dominoes


Whether you’re just learning how to play or already know how to master it, dominoes are a family of tile-based games. These rectangular tiles each have two square ends, each marked with a certain number of spots. Unlike many other board games, dominoes are played by matching the number of dots on each end. The player whose turn it is to complete the game first, wins. To begin, he or she places one domino on top of each other.

Xuan He Pai Pu is the earliest known manual written about dominoes

The game of dominoes was first mentioned in the Xuan He Pai Pu, the earliest known manual about dominoes, in 1112. This does not mean, however, that the game was invented during this period. The earliest known manual describes the game in detail and makes it more accessible to the masses. By the 16th century, dominoes were known as Chinese chess and were still played in some regions of China today.

Xuan He Pai Pu is a Chinese game

Xuan He Pai Pu, also known as the “Four-Leaf Xuan,” is one of the oldest Chinese games. Its origins go back to the early fifteenth century, though the game was likely invented much earlier. The earliest known manual is written by Qu You, who lived between 1119 and 1125. This manual also mentions that the game was invented in 1112.

European-style dominoes contain no class distinctions or duplicates

The game of dominoes originated in China, but eventually made its way to Europe. The first European games were introduced during the early eighteenth century. European versions of the game are distinct from Chinese-style dominoes, in part because they have no duplicates or class distinctions, and instead, contain seven additional dominoes. These additional dominoes represent six of the values of a single die throw and a blank-blank (0-0) combination.

European-style dominoes are made of bone

Traditional European-style dominoes are carved from ivory, silver-lip oyster shell, or bone, and have contrasting black and white pips. Other types of dominoes are made of stone, wood, or plastic. These types of dominoes are often double-wide and double-sided. The first player to place all of his tiles on the board wins. There are also variants that use polystyrene foam.


An Ivory domino is one of the most expensive and prestigious types of dominoes. Ivory was traditionally used for dominoes and was often inlaid with ebony pips. Nowadays, vegetable ivory is also available. This material is obtained from the Tagua nut, which has been used for over two hundred years to create various items. Ivory dominoes have a smooth surface and gradually rounded corners. If the dominoes have sharp corners, they are most likely made from synthetic material.


The Ebony domino set consists of twenty-eight pieces, each measuring 5cm x 2cm x 11mm, all pinned together with small brass pins. These dominoes are very rare, and were manufactured before the 1947 Convention. This particular set is in good condition, but the wooden case is shaky and has cracks. The ebony dominos are in excellent condition.