This famous French manipulative puzzle is known as Boule Enfermee - translated into English as "the enclosed or shut-in ball". The English version of the puzzle is titled The Ball in The Cage. The copy pictured on the left was purchased by the Museum in 1973 , and was made in Japan. Other copies may be made of many types of wood, in natural wood or other colors, and in a range of sizes.
The intent of the puzzle is to release the "ball" from the "cage". The red ball is a solid self-contained sphere and moves freely in the cage. The natural wood 6cm square "cage" appears to be solid, and unable to be opened. As the "cage" is turned or manipulated, it appears identical on all sides.
Taking the puzzle apart is the only way to release the ball. According to Jerry Slocum & Jack Botermans, New Book of Puzzles, New York: W.H. Freeman & Company, 1992, page 57), this puzzle is an "extension of the Three-PIece Burr" puzzle. To release the "ball", one must first discover four "key pieces" that are part of the "cage". The solution to this puzzle is in rotating the key pieces so they may be withdrawn from the "cage".
(Note: To find out more about "Burr" puzzles, return to the Puzzle Page, and click on the Burr icon.)
NOTE: This page was originally created and posted on the Web on October 6, 1997. Subsequently it has been modified and periodically updated. Last update April 11, 2010