chinese finger trap

A Chinese finger trap is a novelty toy and a type of puzzle. It consists of a small, woven tube, traditionally made from bamboo, but nowadays, it can also be made from various materials such as paper or plastic. The tube is designed in such a way that when a finger is inserted into each end, the trap tightens around the fingers when they are pulled apart. The structure of the weave creates this counterintuitive mechanism; pulling the ends outward causes the weave to tighten, while pushing the ends inward loosens the trap, allowing the fingers to be released.

The principle behind the Chinese finger trap is often used as a metaphor for problems that become worse when one tries to tackle them head-on with force, suggesting that sometimes a problem requires a more thoughtful, less direct approach to find a solution. It’s a classic example of how a simple physical object can illustrate a broader philosophical lesson.