Replica of a William Fuld 1917 Ouija Board

Photo by dragonoak / CC BY

Playing Ouija in the Dark

Photo by 69786670@N04 / CC BY

OUIJA

UNITED STATES

19TH CENTURY

 

Ouija is a parlor game played in the 19th century, and had no connection to divination until World War I. The game consists of a flat board with number 0-9, the alphabet, "yes", "no", "good bye", and a planchette to spell out messages on the board.

ORIGIN

 

One of the first mentions of the automatic writing method used in the Ouija board is found in China around 12th century, in historical documents of the Song Dynasty. The method was known as fuji (扶乩), "planchette writing". The use of planchette writing as a means of contacting the dead was done in special rituals and under supervisions, until it was forbidden by the Qing Dynasty. (1)

 

Around 1891, the talking board game started to appear on newspaper advertisement. (2) The game Ouija started to become popular due to the American's fascination with divination and mystic in the 19th century. The game was advertised as being able to answer questions “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy,” promised “never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes,” a link “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial.”  (3)

 

The name Ouija is a combination of the French and German words for "yes", and became the official name of the board game when William Fuld bought the patent from Elijah Bond. Pearl Curran was the first responsible for linking Ouija as tools for divination in World War I, and Americans were using it to check up on their loved ones on the front lines. (4)

 

Fuld's estate sold the patent to the Parker Brothers in 1966, and sequentially to Hasbro when Parker Brothers were bought out.

Ouija Board Collection

Photo by bruciestokes / CC BY

TODAY

 

Ouija board is heavily regarded as a spiritual toy for communicating with the dead. In Asia and other parts of the world, Ouija is played for pastime as a sort of "truth or dare". It is also popular to collect Ouija boards that were made from different time.

Game box for playing Senet

Photo by ddenisen / CC BY

The origin of games is one of the oldest human civilization lineage, spanning over millenniums of development to date. From archaeological evidence traditional games is one of the fundamental aspect of life in the ancient world, and is paramount to the development of social culture and military strategies. Many of these games became modern day family fun for holidays and occasions to enjoy.

Family Playing Boardgame Together

Photo by krisnfred / CC BY

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