Magic Tricks in Ancient History

We have discussed the history of magic in detail in our past articles. In this article, we will discuss magic tricks used by ancient magicians in ancient times.

1. Cups and Balls

Before you start coming up with bad puns and jokes, let’s discuss this trick. It involves cups or bowls, a small object, usually a ball, and an epic transformation at the end. Some magicians may produce lemons or oranges instead of a ball, while others may produce a live chicken. The sky is the limit. The reason why some call it the oldest trick in the book is that a 4000 year old wall painting in an Egyptian tomb depicts two people performing the trick.

Although some debate whether the drawing depicts cups and balls or some sort of a sport, one thing is for certain. The ancient Egyptians were pretty high on magic, and no pharaoh’s court was complete without a group of astronomers and magicians.

2. The Indian Rope Trick

The most debated ancient magical trick reported in history is the Indian rope trick. The story goes that there was an Indian street performer who suspended a long rope without any support. As if this wasn’t enough to blow people’s minds, he used to send his assistant up the rope until he disappeared from sight. Then he would go after his assistant, disappear from sight and apparently hack and slash the poor guy until bloody pieces of his body fell down from the sky. The magician would then come back down, collect the body parts in a basket, and make his assistant appear unharmed out of the basket. This is a much debated trick, mainly because parts of it have been successfully performed in isolation, but the complete trick has never been performed in public. Magicians have successfully suspended ropes, have successfully performed the illusion of cutting their lovely assistant into pieces, but have never been able to replicate the whole Indian rope trick. May be the onlookers mixed up a bunch of tricks when they told the story, or may be there really was a talented magician in the ancient era. All we can confirm from the story is the presence of street performers in the ancient times.

3. The Chinese Linking Rings

In ancient China, street performers used to perform the linking rings. The trick is still used by several magicians today. In this trick, solid metal rings, are linked together and then unlinked. The trick is so simple yet effective that it is an essential part of any basic magic show, and is one of the first few tricks young and aspiring magicians learn.

4. The Body Tricks

Magicians in ancient Rome performed successful decapitation tricks on animals and birds, where they would decapitate the animal or bird and then attach their heads back together, bringing them to life. Some magician would get stabbed in the arm without getting hurt. We can only assume that they developed props which led to developed of larger more complex mechanisms.

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