The Indian Rope Trick is possibly the oldest illusion in the world. Guest blogger Vijai Shah tells us about how he witnessed it, and how he discovered its secrets.
My Father Takes Me to See a Show
I want to tell you about how I saw the famous Indian Rope Trick performed when I was young, and what happened after I saw it.
I grew up in the Indian state of Gujarat not very far away from Gandhinagar. Once when I was 12, my father took me to a theater to see someone perform the rope trick. As I remember, there were other performers there too, but the rope trick was what everyone came to see.
If you have heard of the Indian Rope Trick before you probably have been told it is a hoax or a myth. Of course it is a trick, but some people in India do not believe such a trick really exists. And in America, the same.
So I took a little camera with me and hid it under my shirt. We were not supposed to bring cameras to the performance but I did not know that and probably I would have tried to bring it in anyway.
It was a long time before the curtain finally opened and the fakir came out. Everyone clapped as if he was famous but I had never heard of him. (And now I can’t even remember his name.) He wore traditional dress with a headpiece. He had a young assistant who was dressed very modestly. He was about my age at the time.
The fakir did not explain anything or say anything besides just greeting the audience. Then he took the end of a coil of rope and threw it up into the air. The rope just stayed where he threw it. What was so amazing was the way it froze in the air as if someone had just hit a pause button.
I Capture Those Horrible Moments on Film
I started taking pictures right then.
The boy on the stage bowed to the fakir and started climbing the rope. I remember very clearly that the rope did not swing or bend at all while he climbed it. I took more pictures while I watched. When he reached the top of the rope, the boy disappeared, as if he had gone into an upper room.
The fakir picked up a large sword and held it in his mouth, and he climbed the rope as well. I can remember that the room was very quiet at that moment and that you could hear the sound of the fakir’s feet on the rope as he climbed. He too disappeared at the top.
Then the body parts started falling. It was horrible. No one made a sound because of the shock. The boy’s arms and legs and other parts fell from above the stage, and there was blood. I could not believe my father would take me to something like this! I was still taking pictures but at that point I thought I was photographing a crime scene.
The fakir climbed back down the rope with the sword in his mouth. I think you could see blood on the sword.
He went to open the basket where the rope had been stored, and out jumped the boy! He was in one piece and unharmed. I looked but could not see any of the body parts that had fallen. They had disappeared.
The audience clapped and stood and the fakir and the boy both smiled and bowed. And then the curtain closed.
Indian Rope Trick: I Finally Discover Its Secrets
I went the very next day to have the film developed. (This was before the digital camera!) It took about three days, and then I got it back. I looked at every one of the pictures, unbelieving.
And then I showed my father, and he couldn’t believe it either.
You see, the pictures only show the fakir and the boy standing on stage. No rope in the air, no sword, no blood. Just the two of them, standing there. We had all been hypnotized.