What makes the Hindu shuffle "Hindu?"

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 01/11/03 05:18 PM

What is the history of this name? Is there a legitimate connection with the religion or is this a case of some magician coining the phrase based on a stereotype? Are magicians the only ones who use this term?

What do non-magicians call it? This type of shuffle (holding the long edges rather than short) is common many parts of the world. It seems there would be a broader, more acceptable term for the shuffle.

I have been uncomfotable using the term until I know more of it's history because I don't see a connection.

Postby Guest » 01/11/03 05:38 PM

It is common in Asia to hold the deck with the the pads of the fingers on top of the cards, the palm supporting the pack, and the short-side of the cards resting against the base of the fingers. The thumb is held to the side, away from the cards. Your hand then resembles the letter 'C' if you're left-handed (like me), with the deck in the airspace of that 'C'. The cards are pulled out with the other hand in a shuffling motion. I guess someone figured that "Hindu" conveyed that area of the globe when they named it?

Postby Dave Egleston » 01/11/03 05:50 PM

You pulled this same politically correct stuff on another forum -
There is no negative connotation using a nationality, ethnicity, or religion as a descriptive.

As examples: Jewish rye bread - French drop - English on a cue ball - Indian summer - Mexican food - Chinese food - World league of American Football - Canadian bacon - Hindu rope trick - Ubangi toe hold ---- I give up(French?)

Besides, I told you, It was invented by Alfred P. Hindu, they named it after him.

Please Bill, look for a more noble cause - Why start a fight where there is none?

Are you also uncomfortable about the "Christ Twist" or the "Christ Aces"?

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Postby Max Maven » 01/11/03 05:51 PM

As noted, the Hindu Shuffle is standard throughout Asia. The appellation was by Jean Hugard in 1934; the various magical applications became popular among western magicians during that decade, particularly in writings by Annemann circa 1939.

What do Asians call it? Shuffling.
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Postby Guest » 01/11/03 09:58 PM

Thanks Max.

And Dave, I'm not trying to be politically correct, but rather just polite. And I'm trying to find an answer that makes sense.

So, if the name of the shuffle is the appellation of a European magician and it has no connection to the religion, except by stereotype, should we be calling it that?

It would seem more proper and less like 'magician's outdated lingo" to refer to it perhaps as an "Asian Shuffle" or "Eastern" or "Oriental..." or something indicating it's true origins.

Postby Guest » 01/12/03 04:56 AM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:

There is no negative connotation using a nationality, ethnicity, or religion as a descriptive.

Not quite. In chess, for example, the various "Indian" defences were seen as inferior openings by classically trained grandmasters and, as one theory suggests, the name "Indian" was deliberately applied to them for that very reason.

Yasser Seirawan, International Grandmaster and three times U.S. Champion, in his Winning Chess Brilliancies, of which i have a copy on my shelf, writes:

"Naturally, classical players weren't happy with these young hyper-modern whippersnappers. They smugly termed these fianchetto plans as 'Indian defenses,' referring to those lacking civilization and said to be 'backward'." (p.146)

This is one theory among many. Others opine that an Indian was the first to play such an unusual defense, hence the name, and yet others say that the pawn and piece structure that results from Indian defenses resemble a map of the Indian subcontinent.


Postby Dave Egleston » 01/12/03 09:41 AM

You're right about the "Indian Defense" - That's precisely why I didn't include it as a descriptive - I would have lumped it under derogatory - along with a thousand other less than polite terms.

My contention is: this is a non-issue - nothing derogatory - nothing meant to inflame or hurt anyone's feelings - Living in California, I live and work with people from all walks of life - This particular "issue" has never come up -

Now that I think of it -Why and when has Bill ever told a Hindi he was doing a shuffle that might offend him, because of the name? - First step to a real issue is to be sure an issue is there. I may go to my next door neighbor's house today (Gherkapal Grewal) and hand him my deck of cards and ask him to shuffle. I'll report my findings.

Without getting too political here - I've been lucky enough to have known folks from nearly all walks of life - Lately there has been a calculated effort by these politically correct people to stifle any differences between people - Well with the folks I hang around - We want to celebrate the differences - There is a better chance for me to become more knowledgable about people and their heritage by discussing and living with them and not pretending I don't notice their skin hue - what day they go to Church - what type of clothes they wear - the delightful accents -and some of the most wonderful food I've ever had, from all over the world.
Living this way has stripped the prejudices I was raised with from my life and thinking - and because of this - I never go to a "white" wedding anymore - rubber chicken and white wedding cake - No Thanks.

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Postby Guest » 01/13/03 12:00 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
Lately there has been a calculated effort by these politically correct people to stifle any type differences between people....
[emphasis mine]

Dave, without getting too political, I take offense at that cheap little stereotype. Too bad, because I actually agree with everything else you write, including (in fact, especially) the stuff you imagine would be anathema to "these politically correct people." Besides, that small subset of left-leaning people who actually do go overboard with identity politics spend more, not less, time "celebrating differences."

As to the shuffle, Jean Hugard made reference (it's either in "Card Manipulations" or "More Card Manipulations") to witnessing a "Hindu" performer doing the shuffle as a card control. I can't imagine any offense was meant by his use of "Hindu," and I don't regard the shuffle's name as offensive.

HOWEVER, Hugard then goes on to throw in some extraneous lines about how remarkable it was for someone of so inferior a race to concoct such a lovely card move. I'm paraphrasing but not exaggerating -- check it out. Of course, Hugard (like all of us) was a product of his time, and for all I know he might, with time, have come to recognize the ghastliness of his remarks. But there they are.

Still, I ain't calling it anything other than the Hindu Shuffle.

Whew! I'm famished. I think I'll call up Szechuan Palace and order some "Buddha's Delight."

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 01:46 PM

In computer science and logic, we refer to prefix notation as "Polish Notation" in honor of Jan Lukasiewicz, who developed it in the 1920's. Those of us who have used HP calculators are familiar with Reverse Polish Notation, or RPN.

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 03:02 PM

The use of national names to identify various objects is not confined to magic nor is it necessarily derogatory witness:
French Bowline
Spanish Bowline
Chinese Handcuffs
French Dressing
Russian Dressing
Spanish Fly
Italian Dressing
Panama Hat
Cuba Libre
Belgian Waffle
Scotch Broth
etc., etc. ,

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 04:39 PM

To clarify a couple of points - in chess, the Indian defenses were so named, because in India, the pawn did not have the option of moving two squares on the first move. Therefore the fianchettoing of the bishops was quite common. It is true that the use of these defenses were at first looked down upon by many, because they seemed to violate classical principles, but the term Indian defence itself, was never meant as a derogatory reference toward the people of India. The Hindu shuffle as we know it, is based on, but very different from the actual way they shuffle cards in Asian cultures. Read Graham's description carefully. That is the way they hold the cards. With the exception of my ex girlfriend's brother, I have never seen anyone on this side of the Earth shuffle cards in this manner! Like the term Indian defense in chess, the term Hindu shuffle was never meant in any derogatory way. It is merely a point of reference, as to the origins of this style of shuffling. To infer anything otherwise would only speak to the character of one who would make such an inference. If for any reason you would be "uncomfortable" using the term, then simply don't use it? Unless you were demonstrating different types of shuffles, I don't see why you would have the need to reference them by name anyway.

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 06:15 PM

Thanks for all the input.
I'm really not a trouble-maker!
One of the reasons this came up for me was during the teaching of magic classes with a diverse group of children. When I started to explain "The Hindu Shuffle" it flashed in my mind what that might sound like to some parents. I wasn't sure what justification it had.

UNLIKE other items (that have been mentioned) that were named after nationalities to show origin, this reference didn't seem to have a real connection.

Besides, beyond nationality it referred to a religion and I was uncertain of the association of cards with this religion. Even the name "Hindu" is a European fabrication (but it does seem widely accepted).

True, it may have been a "non-issue" as Dave said because I have never had a complaint...but I didn't want to keep using a term that I had no explanation for if someone did say something!

Most of my Asian friends I noticed performed the shuffle near their heads, but I had seen some friends from Siberia perform much as magicians do. I had asked them what they called it, and like Max, they said, "shuffling."

However, I do feel more comfortable being able to explain the story of how it came to be "discovered" (though now I may not want to show the reference!).
Thanks again!

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 07:01 PM

Hey! I work with a bunch of folks from India and I asked one (okay, she is a beautiful engineer and I look for any excuse to talk to her...by the way, any of you run a model agency this young lady would be a great model)and she gathered more. They never thought how one shuffles a card is stereo typical of any group and felt that perhaps the term stereo type isn't understood. None were offended by the term and all said India has lots of magicians so it makes sense to them that some would be named after them. They also said they use terms using other cultures and to find something more important to worry about. It was fun and the engineer smiled at me.
Steve V

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 08:12 PM

This thread has been worth it just for exposing me to the verb "finchettoing"! I'll have to find a way to work it into my next interoffice memo.

Postby Guest » 01/13/03 08:56 PM

The paragraph in the 1934 "Card Manipulations" by Jean Hugard is as follows:

I have dubbed this very useful series of moves "The Hindu Shuffle" because it was first shown to me over thirty years ago
by a Hindu magician. Since then I have never seen a Hindu performer use any other kind of shuffle. Passing strange if the
despised Indian juggler has given his vastly superior Western confreres another valuable legacy.

Chris Wasshuber
preserving magic one book at a time.

Postby Pete Biro » 01/16/03 06:59 PM

Kuda Bux shuffled that way (he a Pakistani).
Stay tooned.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/03 08:01 AM

If the word "Hindu" was indeed a European fabrication, why are we woried?

A word is only a word, even less if it's "not real".

An observation: I often show the guys in my local Chinese takeaway magic while I'm waiting for my food (or should that be "Far Eastern takeaway", or perhaps "Former British Colony originally stolen from China takeaway" seeing as they're from Hong Kong? Wait a second, they do Cantonese food...?) Anyway, these guys all use the Hindu shuffle, so perhaps it is common in the Eastern parts of the globe.

It's only a name. Remember, it's not the word that's offensive, but the way it is said, and who it is said to.

We are all different. Accept it. And the sooner the world stops worrying about offending people the sooner we'll all get on!

Anyway, when they asked me "What's a Hindu?" I thought they laid eggs...

Postby Guest » 01/21/03 04:05 PM

And just when I'd forgotten about this thread...

last night I was performing for a private party in Roy's (Orlando) and an Indian lady shuffled the deck ala the Hindu Shuffle!

I asked what she called it and she replied, "I guess 'The Indian shuffle'."

She was pretty sharp and noted, without my comments, that it's not a shuffle but a series of cuts, as was noted here earlier.


Steve H

Postby Guest » 01/21/03 04:19 PM

I'm working on a short paper that explores the cultural differences regarding shuffling and cutting.
Chan Canasta performed Overhand Shuffles while holding the SIDES of the deck. Tnhis BTW made Milk-Build Shuffling easier.


Postby Guest » 01/21/03 07:03 PM

I had a friend in college (a Japanese guy from Hawaii) who did a variation of the hindu shuffle. The difference was that the right hand portion was held from below rather than from above the deck, much like in an overhand shuffle except that the deck was held across the narrow width and was pointed in the normal hindu shuffle direction. The left hand (collecting) portion was held in the normal way. I don't know if I've explained this clearly or not. Anyway I haven't seen anyone else shuffle that way, so I don't know if it was peculiar to him or not.

Postby Guest » 01/21/03 07:24 PM

The name "Hindu Shuffle" was actually coined by Jean Hugard. This is the normal way of shuffling in countries such as India and Pakistan.
However Walter Gibson in "What's new in Magic" gives it a very detailed treatment taking up at least 20 pages by my estimation ( I don't have the book to hand right now) and gives many, many uses for it.
However, he describes it as the "End Shuffle"

Postby Guest » 01/22/03 04:29 PM

Thanks Edward. It's amazing what's overlooked in old books. It's a book I had right near me and when you mentioned the passage I looked it up. Indeed, it is an informative one I think.

"For years magicians have been using the End Shuffle, in which cards are weeded from the end of the pack in a series of running cuts...Though this Hindu shuffle, as it is sometimes styled, actually mixes the pack, it is possible to utilize every form of card control during the process.
Many of these "moves" or operations were developed by Ted Annemann...having gone over these in detail with Annemann...I have aptly titled these uses of the End Shuffle "The Jinx Card Control." (page 62).

This seems to me a more accurate name and untained by the bit of bigotry of Hugard (however small). I have no problem with either term if it offends no one. It just seems in poor taste to use a term of limited definition and questionable history.

Postby Guest » 01/23/03 01:05 PM

I am afraid that it is always going to be known as the "Hindu Shuffle' until the end of time despite Walter Gibson's valiant attempt to have it renamed as the "end shuffle"

Still it does at least give Paul Daniels a chance to do a little gag. In his routine of fancy shuffles I recall him saying something like "This is the Hindu shuffle. What does a Hin do? Lays eggs!"
Not exactly a major rib tickler and I suspect you have to be Paul Daniels to pull it off.

Postby Guest » 01/23/03 03:31 PM

Originally posted by Edward:
...I am afraid that it is always going to be known as the "Hindu Shuffle" until the end of time...
As things stand today, with our Eurocentric -> America -> Corporate view perhaps a change may be a ways coming. However, as the economy of India and some parts of Asia get moving we may find it to our benefit to lose any condesending language and attitude.

Do you think the up and coming magicians in other parts of the world are naming things in a way we would find 'awkward'? I sure would feel odd hearing someone describe a routine as using a 'Catholic double lift' followed by a 'Quaker palm' and then loading the 'Jewish wallet'.

Postby Guest » 01/23/03 04:06 PM

It's funny you should mention your friend. My wife shuffles card the exact same way. And she's Japanese...

Postby Guest » 01/24/03 08:58 PM

Jonathon, I certainly think you should avoid the expression "loading the Jewish wallet"
It could lead you into trouble.

Postby Guest » 01/24/03 09:15 PM

Originally posted by Edward:
...phrase "loading the Jewish wallet"
It could lead you into trouble.
True enough Edward though why one such reference should be any more or less awkward than another is a matter of prejudice and bigotry. If we held all such terms in equal esteem we would drop the use of "hindu shuffle". Even for routines involving multiple reincarnations.

At the moment some terms may be tolerable, any such terms may haunt us and diminish us in the eyes of those who follow.

Some parents teach their children not to use ethnic slurs. Perhaps we might teach our next generation some more globally aware language?


PS/Idle musing :)
Edward... would that be as in Hyde?
There is another new poster named Henry Baskerville. Perhaps it is Victorian Literary character names week at Genii? Coincidence? Maybe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has gotten popular?

Postby Guest » 02/01/03 05:56 AM

Why on Earth does the name of a shuffle constitute condescending language or attitude?

I suggest you all re-read 1984, and remind yourselves about words being removed from the language, to prevent people thinking what the Powers that Be don't want them to.

I know we're a long way off the Thoughtcrime scenario becoming real (at least, I hope we are) but Politically Correct, overly concerned and insultingly close-minded things like worrying if a card shuffle might somehow stop India wanting to trade with the US, then subsequently hushing up any mention of the name, just in case, seems to be a sure-fire way of starting it off!

For those that haven't read the book, the removal of words will lead to people being unable to voice their opinions, views and concepts. If you cannot express yourself, you cannot influence others, and if you only understand simple words and phrases, you cannot be influenced by others.

Control the people by controlling thier language.

Is this the way you want to go?

Didn't think so.

So can we please drop all the politically correct nonsense and keep to the magic.

Postby Guest » 02/01/03 08:55 AM

I would like to talk to you like a dutch uncle before taking french leave. I'll then leave the rest of you to polish* off the topic. I have to drink my coffee from my china cup -- tea not scotch and soda.
I would mention that as a sailor I learned to tie a french bowline, a portuguese bowline, a spanish bowline (and that knot known only to the masters of the trade -- the chinese bowline), knew a friend who was shanghaied, saw a deck with a dutchman in it, have had days when there was no more sky than a dutchman's britches. Come to think of it, a fellow could get in dutch for pursuing this line of thought.

*Now that is stretching it so I'll just go russian off.

Postby Guest » 02/02/03 01:31 AM

Some still seem to miss the point that this is not really about being PC. Nor is this equivalent to naming something after a nationality.

Although it doesn't carry the same weight as a slur, "Hindu" is a European label that groups a religion and a culture together. Forget for a moment this could even be equated to naming a shuffle, "The Spic Shuffle" or "The Hebe Shuffle" or "The Chink Shuffle..." I wanted to know if the label had any truth in indicating the Indian culture as originating it ,as a matter of record. It seems it is not.

By referring to such a shuffle using an inaccurate "magicians" term, it reduces its legitimacy . It is a legitimate shuffle. It is used worldwide and our language should reflect that. It is not to be thought of as just a special magicians shuffle of limited use. By correcting our language, we correct or thinking and how we approach the shuffle for the public.

Postby Guest » 02/02/03 03:23 AM

Originally posted by Bill Jackson:
Forget for a moment this could even be equated to naming a shuffle, "The Spic Shuffle" or "The Hebe Shuffle" or "The Chink Shuffle..."

Your analogy is horribly flawed. "Hindu" is not a derogatory, rascist term. Your examples I have quoted above ARE. Huge, huge difference. HUGE. Surely you understand this, but if you do, why make the comparison? (Please don't direct me to pay attention to your preface beginning "Forget for a moment..." in order to pretend you did not make the analogy. That would be poor rhetoric indeed.)

Akin with other statements in this thread, I think a more fair analogy might be to compare "Hindu Shuffle" to "French kiss." Do you honestly have a problem with "French kiss?" If not, why not? I believe all of the concerns you have expressed regarding true historical and ethnic origins would apply to this expression as well.


Scott Moore

Postby Guest » 02/02/03 03:44 AM

Please re-read my post carefully.

The focus is not on slur. I acknowleged "Hindu" doesn't carry the same weight as a slur. I said FORGET for a moment this could even be equated to slur, and focus on the other points I was making.
However, "Hindu" is only short of a slur. It lacks the derogetory connotations but exhibits European ignorance of another culture. Yet because of this it is much closer to a slur than to calling it "French" or by a national identity. That is the reason for comparison.

Postby Guest » 02/02/03 04:33 AM


Please reread my post carefully.

It is dishonest to invoke inflamatory rhetoric to evoke an emotional response, and then say "Forget I said it, it's not my point." If you reread my post, you can see I anticipated this response based on your prior postings in this thread.

You keep changing grounds for the argument, switching between whether the expression is a) historically accurate, b) a racial/religious slur, or c) "tantamount" to a racial/religious slur.
My responses are :
a) Yes. Within reason.
b) No.
c) No.

If you get down to taking a poll as to whether it's okay to use the term, put me down for "Yes."

Me? I'm outta here. I'm gonna go back to trying to figure out whether to use the term "Tilt" or "The Depth Illusion."

Still respectfully,

Scott Moore

Postby Guest » 02/02/03 11:55 AM

Just to clearify.
"Hindu" or "Hindi" is derived from "INDIan" just as "Jap" is derived from "JAPanese" and "Chink" for "CHINese." It is only through what we associate with the terms that makes them inflamitory.

"Hinduism" (hINDIanISM) is a somewhat a slang that has gain acceptance in the West (probably because of our other misnomer for the American "Indian"). "Hindi," "Jap" or "Chink" are all the same way Westerners abbreviate a reference to include popular cultural ideas. Here, "Hindu" usually includes the Vedic religion as well as the Indian people (this it one of the "isms"). I wanted to point out to those who kept equating "Hindu" to "French" or "Russian" that it is not quite the same and has more in common with the slurs (even if it isn't as emotionally charged). My first quest was to see if the term was ever felt as a cultural "slur" beside being a linguistic slur of speech. Appearently it has been accepted in the same way L.D.S. accept being called "Mormons."

I don't believe the shuffle originated in India any more than Columbus was the first to discover "America." I don't think shuffling cards is directly part of the Vedic religion either. "Hindu Shuffle" has become a magicians term for a common shuffle. Because of this, a lot of magicians think of this a just a "magicians" shuffle and treat it that way.

I'm not on a crusade to change this particular insiders lingo we use if it doesn't offend anyone. It just seems we should consider the several benifits of calling this (perhaps) the "End Shuffle" instead (or maybe change calling "Overhand Shuffle" to the "Hamericoo Shuffle" so it sound foreign too).


I started this trying to connect the "dots" and not finding a strong connection, find more reasons to use a more appropriate term. No hard feelings to those who want to keep calling it "Hindu." Everyone now has a legitimate alternitive that they may find more useful in the future. It's great to have discussions like this so we can use our terms more intellegently (thoughtfully) for our purposes.

Postby Max Maven » 02/02/03 02:39 PM

To Bill Jackson:

Your comments about the derivation of the term "Hindu" are misinformed. It is simply the 17th century Persian name for the people of India, an altered pronunciation for the Sanskrit word "sindhu" meaning river. Nothing pejorative about it whatsoever.

A comparable situation would be "Japan," derived from the Mandaran pronunciation of the ideograms used for "sun origin," pronounced "Nippon" or "Nihon" in Japanese.

When "Japan" is truncated to "Jap," it is clearly with demeaning intent. In contrast, "Hindu" is not a truncation, and has no inherently positive or negative usage.

The situation is obviously complicated by the fact that "Hindu" has evolved into two meanings (both having existed from the start, but originally inseparable): One simply denotes a resident of a specific area, and the other refers to a follower of a specific religion. And, as always, when theology enters the picture, sensibilities become delicate.
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Postby Guest » 02/02/03 05:50 PM

Thanks Max, I always appreciate your comments. I have not seen your version of the origin in print before. What I stated came from several general references in common dictionaries and books about "Hinduism." I can't verify the research at the moment. It does appear the term "Hindu" was used by the ancient Greeks for a time, but I'm not sure of the context. It vanished for a while and was ressurected by the Brittish as an "ism" according to what I read.I'll look into more.

I didn't want start a PC tangent. I tend to agree with Lenny Bruce that the more you object to a word, the more you empower it. It's better to deal the stereotype and let the evolution of language change the word. I was just on a quest to understand my own use of the reference a bit better and not just perpetuate misunderstanding.

Postby Guest » 02/03/03 01:45 AM

What a wormhole!

I did a bit of digging on the term "Hindu" with some interesting result (posted below).

But before going any further, I wondering if Max had an opinion about using the term "Hindu Shuffle." You have already expressed you didn't think it a slur, but what of historical accuracy and credit?

Anyway, for the curious...

As to the word itself. Indeed there is a connection to the "sindhu" as Max stated. And there is connection between the word "Indian and Hindu" like I stated, but a bit reversed so it is indeed not a truncation. Still, it was a name applied to them by outsiders, but long before the British.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces Hindooism to an 1829 reference in the Bengalee, 45. It also refers to an 1853 usage by the German Indologist Max Mller. The adding of an "ism" made it a "catch all term."

In ancient India you had either a yogi, a bhakta, a tantric, a sanyasi, a sankhya vadin, a vedantin, a lokayata, a rishi, a muni, a pandit, a pragna, a yogini, a devi, a swami, a Saivite, a Vaishnavite, a siddha or Buddha,
but no Hindu.

No Hindu ever coined them.
The Hindus were even unaware of such a terminology for a very long time.

The earliest reference to the word "Hindu" can be found in the Avestha, the sacred book of the Zoroastrians. The word "Hindu 'ush" was also found at least in two inscriptions of king Darius ( early sixth Century B.C.), whose empire said to have extended up to the borders of the river Sindhu.

Hindu and Indian are both forms of the original Sanskrit word "Sindhu" meaning river in general and the Indus river in particular. The Greeks referred to those living in the subcontinent as "Indos" while the Muslim scholars called them "Hindus".The Europeans who came to India from the sixteenth century onwards followed the same tradition and referred the natives as Hindus to distinguish them from the non-Muslims.

Hindus never referred themselves as Hindus until modern times. It was only during the 18th and 19th centuries that Hindus started accepting the word.

There are many interesting stories and explanations about the origin of the word 'hindu'. Some modern Hindu scholars believe that it is derived from the sanskrit word 'Hidi'which means to achieve one's objective

More info at

Postby Max Maven » 02/03/03 01:49 PM

Originally posted by Bill Jackson:
I wondering if Max had an opinion about using the term "Hindu Shuffle." You have already expressed you didn't think it a slur, but what of historical accuracy and credit?
In order to answer that, I must first address a point you've made several times (including in your most recent message), that the term Hindu "was a name applied to them by outsiders...."

Apprently this bothers you, but it seems moot to me. As noted previously, the citizens of Nihon don't call it "Japan." Too, the citizens of Deutschland don't call it "Germany." And, for that matter, the proper name for my country in its own language is the United States of America, not Yhdysvallat or Spojen Stty or Beikoku or any of the many other "names applied by outsiders."

There are pejorative terms for describing other groups of people. The terminology of magic contains plenty of disturbing and offensive examples -- something I have addressed extensively in print -- but "Hindu Shuffle" i s not one of them. I have no problem with the term "Hindu Shuffle" based on the notion that it's some sort of ethnic slur, as it isn't.

So, the real question is whether or not the term is misleading. Does this shuffling procedure come from India? It would seem that it does not. So far as I know, the Hindu Shuffle does not exist outside of magic. It is similar to a shuffle that was and is common throughout Asia -- including that part of Asia known under a variety of names, one of them being "Hindustan."

So, the title is technically inaccurate, but not entirely off the mark, and not pejorative. Much like the terms "English Muffin" and "French Dip."

Heres a more relevant example: There is a small musical instrument that dates back over a thousand years. For about half that time, its most common name in English has been "Jews Harp." There are various theories as to how this title came about (most historians agree that its a distorted pronunciation of another word, but they differ as to the starting point). However, there is no reason to believe its origin or intent was derogatory.

The fact that the instrument has no actual historical connection to the ethnic, cultural and/or theological group(s) called Jews is not particularly important in the general use of the term; it is a titular designation, well established and functional. If I wish to refer to that device, I can compose a paragraph to describe its construction while avoiding the appellation; I can try to use a substitute term and hope that the listener or reader will understand what I mean; or, I can simply use its name and move on. I prefer the latter.

My attitude toward the term "Hindu Shuffle" is the same.
Max Maven
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Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
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Postby Guest » 02/03/03 05:37 PM

Good show Max.

You are indeed well founded!! I could not agree with your conclusions any more!

In my own small way I wish to introduce the following:

Reference one: Jean Hugard was NOT the first nor the only reference for the term"Hindu Shuffle". Touring turn of the century England (last Century), conjurors from India were all the rage for the new vaudeville style acts. Their way of shuffling and controlling the cards was notably different and thence the term "Hindu Shuffle" came into being. This is found in many English Newspaper articles and can be found in Magician's magazines of the period as well. A whole series of articles were written on Indian conjuring from the period and a whole series of effects dubbed "Hindu". Absolutely NO condemnation was meant. The card shuffle and control is all that appears to have stuck with us.

Reference two: Hindu or as it was spelled and pronounced in 1843 "Hindoo" was defined as being "An aboriginal of Hindostan" by my 1843 Webster's American Dictionary.

If Bill is truly interested in origins (And I think he is NOT) I can provide more detail on reference one with a perusal of my library.

I hope this puts this all to bed. :)



P.S. If much of Hugards works are actually read, it would be seen that in card manipulations he was actually making fun of his contemporaries that would look down their noses at learning something entirely new, let alone something new from a "Foreign source". After all they were supposed to be the "Superior" Magi weren't they? ;)

Postby Guest » 02/04/03 02:17 AM

Max, you might have curtailed our entertaining displays of ignorance if you had piped in sooner. Thank you.

I was aware that "outsiders" change pronunciations to fit their own culture and wasn't objecting to that per se. I find it interesting that "Hindu" is not exactly the same as the derivations you mentioned such as of "France" or "Japan." In our current vernacular we accept and use more properly the term "India," "Indians" or "East Indians." Confusing matters further, "Hindu" in our common vernacular often seems to reference the religion or culture (even if it didn't historically). So my original concern (not really an objection) was 'what exactly were we referring to' with the term "Hindu" regarding the shuffle. And though I never believed it a direct slur, I wasn't sure of it's appropriateness.

My immediate association was its confusing religious/cultural reference...and I was unsure if anyone might take some religious objections to the term being applied to cards (as fundamentalists in other religions might). The application of the term to cards seemed to push an already "questionable" term even further. I sensed something strange in it all, but I was having trouble articulating my concerns without being misunderstood and ruffling feathers.

These musings are not to resurrect more dispute, but just my current "ponderings"...and any further clarifying comments are welcome.

And Mark I appreciate your comments as well and do find information on such origins fascinating.


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