Dominoes evolved from dice in ancient China in the early 12th century. The Sequence of pips on a standard double-six domino set represent all the rolls of two six-sided dice. A set of Chinese Dominoes contains all the possible combinations. European dominoes use only the unique rolls. Shortly after their introduction into Europe the blank was added. Sets with larger numbers of tiles were invented later, with the double nine and Double twelve sets being the most common extensions.
Dominoes were brought to Italy by traders in the early eighteenth century. The game quickly caught on and spread to the rest of Europe throughout the remainder of the 1700's, becoming one of the most popular games in both family parlors and pubs alike.
The word "domino" appears to have derived from the traditional appearance of the tiles - black dots on a white background - which is reminiscent of a "domino" (a kind of hood) worn by Christian priests.
Chinese dominoes are radically different to Western dominoes both in appearance and in how the game is played. Chinese dominoes are divided into two groups. 11 tiles called civilian and ten called Military. There are two of each civilian tile for a total of 32 individual tiles in a set. The tiles are longer and narrower than Western domino tiles and are held in the player's hands like playing-cards.
Top panel: Lid from domino box c1890