The goal of this paper is to tell the hitherto known history of an old question concerning the so-called recreative mathematics: this application of arithmetic techniques to every-day situations has surprisingly spread in Asia and Europe through the centuries, and it shows unforeseen connections among remote places, times, and cultures. The presence of a similar or identical question in different contexts can both help historians of mathematics to find unexplored links and dependences between scholars and mathematical discoveries in geographically and culturally far environments, and provide to tout-court historians and cultural anthropologists brand-new material sources to investigate daily life and civilization streams. The way this passage happened, is often a mystery hard to explore, but, from these hints, scholars can rightly be sure that such links existed: in fact recreative mathematics has always and everywhere been considered a minor branch of this discipline, devoted to education or game, so that it has never been censored for any reason and no filters of dominant culture have been applied.
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