Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Rise and Fall of the Indian Rope Trick

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Rise and Fall of the Indian Rope Trick

Article excerpt

The authors would like to thank Eddie Dawes and Marcello Truzzi for their comments on this article. We are also indebted to them and the following individuals for supplying valuable information related to the article: Douglas Cameron, Mrs. Amy Dawes, Peter Lane, Bob Loomis, B Premenand, and Alan Wesencraft.

ABSTRACT: In a classic version of the Indian rope trick, the performer first causes a rope to rise into the air. His boy assistant then climbs up the rope and disappears. The performer then climbs the rope after the boy and also vanishes. Moments later, dismembered parts of the boy's body fall to the ground. The performer then descends the rope and places these parts into a basket. Finally, the boy jumps from the basket, fully restored to life. This legendary trick has generated more than a hundred years of debate among scientists, psychical researchers, journalists, magicians, and the public. This paper is an attempt to present a comprehensive account of and solution to the legend. The rope trick came to be seen as an Eastern phenomenon of some antiquity, and histories of the trick have claimed that it was famous in the West in the mid-nineteenth century. However, this does not appear to be the case, and the legend of the trick seems to have really begun as the result of a hoax article carried by an American newspaper in 1890. The legend gained momentum with the appearance of reports from individuals claiming to have seen the trick, and of photographs and film that allegedly showed the trick being performed. …

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