Rock, Paper, Scissors Goes Back To Ancient China

By | September 20, 2019

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Scissors, paper, rock. Picture by DOMINO POSTIGLIONE. Source: (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

Can't decide where to have dinner? Need to determine who will take out the trash? Battling over who gets the front seat? All of these disputes can be easily solved by using an ancient Chinese method of decision making. That's right: Rock, paper, scissors. The origins of rock, paper, scissors can be traced back to China around 200 BC. The game has evolved over the years, but the basic premise has remained the same, and it's never waned in popularity. In fact, the game is hugely popular in Japan. Let’s look at the early versions of rock, paper, scissors and how it became a global decision-making method. 

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Rock, paper, scissors has an ancient history. Source: (

China's Han Dynasty

The origins of rock, paper, scissors have been traced back to China's Han Dynasty. The game was originally called shoushiling, meaning "the three who are afraid of each other," and the three choices were "frog, slug, and snake." Like today's version of the game, the choices are represented by hand gestures: An extended thumb represents the frog, the pinky finger represents the slug, and an outstretched index finger is the snake.

For hundreds of years, shoushiling was an exclusively Chinese game, but as you're no doubt aware, it eventually made its way around the world. On its journey, it underwent some ... bizarre changes.