Keno and the Great Wall of China

While the above heading might be jarring at first, it certainly starts making a little more sense when remembering that Keno is a game that has had an incredibly long history, stretching back thousands and thousands of years, to ancient China. Indeed, it is believed that Keno first originated some 3000 years ago during the Chinese Han Dynasty under their ruler Cheung Leung. It is also in Keno’s long history that lies the legend that it helped build the Great Wall of China.

Keno and the Great Wall of China

Han Dynasty’s Cheung Leung

According to popular belief, the ruler of the Han Dynasty, Cheung Leung, found himself tied up in a difficult war that depleted the city’s funds and resources. Leung had reached the end of his limits, could not tax his city’s residents any more than he already had, and had no way of raising funds to end the war.

To find a solution, he invented a new game called Keno, a lottery-type game where players would pick numbers in the hopes of matching the pre-picked winning numbers. If they were lucky, they would stand the chance of winning a fortune. The game became enormously popular and was used to raise money to finish the hard and drawn-out Han Dynasty War.

Building the Great Wall of China 

Legend also has it that the game of Keno was used to raise funds to help build the Great Wall of China. Even though the initial building of the Great Wall is thought to have started many years before Cheung Leung’s rule, during the Qin Dynasty, it is certainly true that later dynasties, including the Han Dynasty, built newer and renovated versions of the Great Wall of China, and Keno could very well have played a large part in raising funds to build, or, at least, continue build and renovate, the wall.

The Historical Facts 

Whether or not the belief that Keno helped fund the building of the Great Wall of China is true or not, both the Great Wall of China and Keno have had a long history that has surpassed the ravishes of time. The Great Wall of China still stands, as mighty as ever, and Keno, while slightly changed through its travels around the world and particularly since its introduction to America in the early twentieth century, is still as popular as ever. The story that it helped built the Great Wall of China certainly adds one more element to the game that makes it more alluring.