Four Hinged Squares

The problem of four hinged squares appeared in 1826 as a sangaku hung by Ikeda Sadakazu in an Azabu shrine, Tokyo.

sangaku with four hinged squares

Four squares are hinged as shown. When points A, B, C are collinear, what is the relationship between the sides of squares BEKH and KINS?

Several solutions are available at this site: one makes use of Bottema's theorem, another comes from a wonderful book by Rothman and Fukagawa.

Below is a solution by Michel Cabart that employs complex numbers.

Let a, c, e, h, k, j be the complex numbers corresponding to points A, C, E, H, K, I, with the origin being in point B. Then:

j - k = (j - h) + (h - k) = i(c - h) - ih = -i(2h - c)
s - k = (s - e) + (e - k) = -i(a - ih) - h = -ai - 2h
j - k = -i(s - k) so that h = (c - ai)/4.

Replacing value of h in j - k, we get j - k = (i/2)(c + ai) = 2ih', (where h' denotes the conjugate of h) so that IK = 2BH.

This solution yields an additional result: the axis of symmetry of lines (IK) and (BH) is inclined by 45° on line (BC).

(Note: the problem we just discussed serves an example of application of complex numbers in geometry. There are many more.)


  1. H. Fukagawa, A. Rothman, Sacred Geometry: Japanese Temple Geometry, Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 149

Bottema's Theorem

  1. Bottema's Theorem
  2. An Elementary Proof of Bottema's Theorem
  3. Bottema's Theorem - Proof Without Words
  4. On Bottema's Shoulders
  5. On Bottema's Shoulders II
  6. On Bottema's Shoulders with a Ladder
  7. Friendly Kiepert's Perspectors
  8. Bottema Shatters Japan's Seclusion
  9. Rotations in Disguise
  10. Four Hinged Squares
  11. Four Hinged Squares, Solution with Complex Numbers
  12. Pythagoras' from Bottema's
  13. A Degenerate Case of Bottema's Configuration
  14. Properties of Flank Triangles
  15. Analytic Proof of Bottema's Theorem
  16. Yet Another Generalization of Bottema's Theorem
  17. Bottema with a Product of Rotations
  18. Bottema with Similar Triangles
  19. Bottema in Three Rotations
  20. Bottema's Point Sibling

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