Talk:Indian rope trick

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A Winner of the September 2005 West Dakota Prize

Professor Bofeys[edit]

There are some old newspaper accounts in the 1930s of a "Professor Bofeys", allegedly performing the Indian rope trick with success at the "annual convention of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians". See for example [1], [2]. I have no idea what Bofeys first name was. I managed to find an old newspaper article from Gloucestershire which states "Prof. Bofeys, of the Indian rope trick fame", but that is about it. There was an online auction for a group of magic photographs, one of them was a photograph of Bofeys performing the Indian Rope Trick but it is not online. This is probably a dead end and not notable enough for this article but just leaving this here if anyone has any information or suggestions about it. HealthyGirl (talk) 11:34, 26 June 2016 (UTC)

Apparently Prof. Bofeys performed the trick in July, 1931 in a garden at Cheltenham in front of magicians. He claimed to be the first person in the West to perform the trick in open air (many have made this claim). It is suspicious that he denied performing the trick in public and nobody had ever heard of him again (a more in depth read here [3]) "The trick is pure illusion", said Professor Bofeys, "both on the part of the spectator and my assistant. He refused to divulge; anything further." [4] HealthyGirl (talk) 11:48, 26 June 2016 (UTC)
Although Professor Bofeys' name is not always mentioned in the following letters, these letters to the editor of the BBC's magazine The Listener refer to him: The Listener, Dec 12, 1934, p 998 (letter from R.H. Elliot); The Listener, Dec 27, 1934, p 1076 (letter from Harold T. Wilkins); The Listener, Jan 9, 1935, p 78 (letter from R.H. Elliot); The Listener, Jan 23, 1935, p 163 (letter from Harold T. Wilkins). The impression given by R.H. Elliot's letters is that Professor Bofeys' efforts were merely an attempt to gain publicity for the International Brotherhood of Magicians with a hoax photograph of the rope trick and that not all IBM members agreed such publicity was fitting and proper. --Jim mckeague 02:58, 28 June 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jim mckeague (talkcontribs)
Thanks for the information. The only thing I have read of R. H. Elliot is his book "The myth of the mystic East", I don't have access to any of his letters unfortunately. Regarding Bofeys, there is a photograph of him performing the trick because I have seen it listed as being sold in conjuring auctions but I guess this is extremely rare and not many copies exist. It would be lovely to get an image online. I am searching for old images of the trick being performed, there are not many that exist. HealthyGirl (talk) 05:19, 28 June 2016 (UTC)

Account by Sir Henry Sharp[edit]

In his book Good-Bye India (1946), Sir Henry Sharp (1869-1954) an Indian colonial administrator, gave an early second-hand account of the Indian rope trick. Unfortunately I don't have access to this book yet, it does not appear to be online. I will include it on the article if I end up getting hold of a copy. HealthyGirl (talk) 13:05, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

Account by John Finnemore[edit]

I just found an old account of the Indian rope trick. I don't think this one has been picked up by historians. It is mentioned by John Finnemore in his book Home Life in India (1917):

The fakir called for a rope, and a strong piece of cord, such as is used to fasten goods on a country cart, was brought to him. He took it, whirled it a few times round his head, and tossed it into the air. It stood up straight and firm, as if it were hanging down from a support, though it appeared to have no support of any kind. The little boy now came forward and went up the rope nimbly hand over hand. Up and up he went, and suddenly the fakir threw the end of the rope up after him, and nothing was to be seen. For a few seconds the fakir stood motionless, then he began to climb. He rose steadily from the ground, making all the motions of a man climbing a rope, though no rope was there. On and on he went, until his form grew smaller and smaller, and he seemed to vanish into the sky. The amazed guest was still staring in wonder into the empty air, when someone said : " Hullo ! here they come." He looked down, to see the fakir and the boy approaching the spot as if they had emerged from a clump of bushes fifty yards away.

Online here [5], the book is listed as nonfiction on many websites but reads like a fiction book. It is unclear if the book is describing Finnemore's own experiences or not. HealthyGirl (talk) 05:38, 28 June 2016 (UTC)

Account by James Reid Marsh[edit]

There is an account by James Reid Marsh of a version of the Indian rope trick in his book The Charm of the Middle Kingdom (1922) that he claimed to have observed. I have not been able to find much about Reid but he had travelled throughout China. Whilst amongst the Miao people in China he claimed that an Indian fakir had visited the village he was staying at and performed the trick:

The next thing I knew the fakir was chanting in a low monotonous voice, rocking backward and forward, his arms crossed over his breast, and his face turned heavenwards. He must have kept this up for fifteen minutes before I noticed with a start that the blot of blue had traveled a perceptible way into the air. Were my eyes deceiving me.' No. I saw the child distinctly lifted on the end of the rope, the latter uncoiling itself upward like a curious serpent.

Up, up, the child went. The braziers belched their purple smoke with redoubled energy. I sat in the midst of a purple mist, seeing and feeling purple. The rope went up with graceful insinuations, the child barely swaying on the end of it. Pere Goudot looked at me and I at him. But we said nothing. We were speechless with amazement. The Miaos were speechless too. Not a sound was heard but the moaning voice of the fakir. But I felt the intensity of the moment. The great crowd was on the point of screeching. But fascination took away its breath.

I saw that child disappear in a cloud of purple smoke that lay over the spot like a blanket. The other end of the rope was barely dangling on the earth. It dangled for a instant, and then, the fakir reversing his intonation, it came down again. I watched it coiling itself again as a hawser coils off a wench. It came down rapidly until the upper end disengaged itself from the purple smoke. The upper end disengaged itself from the purple smoke but it no longer supported the child. Down, down it came until it reached a point some five feet from the ground. And there it paused, swaying as a cobra sways when music charms its ears. I looked up, trying to penetrate the purple mist above me. It was like an opaque sheet of blue water. Was the child there? What had become of

him? Suddenly the rope slipped down and lay motionless where it had lain before. The fakir gradually ceased rocking. Slowly his voice died away to a whisper and then went out altogether.

Online here [6] HealthyGirl (talk) 08:03, 28 June 2016 (UTC)

Just found some information on Reid, he was a former official of the Chinese Customs. HealthyGirl (talk) 08:09, 28 June 2016 (UTC)

Account in the SPR[edit]

An account reported by the Society for Psychical Research in 1906 [7] HealthyGirl (talk) 18:01, 23 July 2016 (UTC)