One of the most popular games to test your wit, played by children as well as by serious grown-ups who love a challenge.
What are Riddle Puzzles
There are two types of riddles – the so-called engimas who use metaphorical language and conundra, which are basically puns. They’re both solved the same way, by furiously scratching your head until you guess! To be fair, creators of good riddles deserve as much credit as those who can guess the answer, if not even more. And they’re much more than a fun pastime, as many linguists and folklorists have spent their whole lives collecting, categorizing and studying riddles, which can be found in every culture.
Famous Riddle Puzzles
Some riddles only make sense to a certain people or part of the world, but others can easily be translated in any language as they refer to universal values.
For instance, a riddle like “This woman has not been to the riverside for water, but there is water in her tank” would make no sense to people who don’t understand African culture and have never seen a coconut in their lives, for that is the answer.
On the other hand, the famous Riddle of the Sphinx can easily be guessed by anyone.
‘It goes in the morning on four feet, at lunch-time on two, at evening on three.’ That’s a man (or woman), of course, who crawls as a baby, then walk on two feet, and ends up using a cane in old age.
History of Riddles
The oldest riddles in the world were discovered in Babylonian manuscripts, but unfortunately they did not contain the answers so they are hard to guess since we don’t know that much of their culture. Who can say what ‘my knees hasten, my feet do not rest, a shepherd without pity drives me to pasture’ meant for them?
In Ancient Greece, riddles were a form of entertainment at public meetings and they were usually in verse.
In modern times, riddles tend to be more humorous, being frequently referred to as jokes. Here’s an example. ‘Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 (ate) 9.’
Riddles are sometimes featured in game shows as well as in books or movies. Perhaps the most famous example is the riddle contest between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’