Origins of the Linking Rings...

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Postby Ray Eden » 07/19/05 12:45 PM

I'm hoping some of our magic history gurus can offer some insight into the origins of the now classic Chinese Linking Rings. Any and all thoughts and comments are welcome.

Magickally,

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Postby Ray Eden » 07/19/05 12:51 PM

One other question... can someone tell me the artist of the painting depicting a topless woman apparently performing the Linking Rings. The painting depicts Arabs and an Arabic setting.

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Postby Pete Biro » 07/19/05 12:56 PM

What painting? The one in a Turkish Harem?
I have pictures that I took in the Prague National Museum of what COULD BE linking rings, from 200BC and the first known instructions from an Asian source, but info from earlier in Spain and Belgium.

Also I have pictures that I took from a digs of ruins of a Roman Theater showing some rings of metal, one with a key type break. Could have been Linking rings or jewelry?
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Postby Ray Eden » 07/19/05 01:00 PM

I think it is the Turkish Harem painting that I'm referencing.

The other information you gave is what I'm very interested in. Some recent research that I've been doing has turned up the idea that the Linking Rings are far older than most of us think. Aren't they generally said to have been brought to Europe in the late 18th or early 19th centuries?

Would you have those photographs available to share?

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Postby Pete Biro » 07/19/05 02:24 PM

My belief is the rings originated in the middle east, maybe Egypt and travelled the silk and trade routes east and west... the earliest known "show" had a Spaniard performing in the 1500s in Brussells. I have info on that. The pictures? If I can dig up the files.

Re: the Harem painting... I don't know if it is signed or what? It is a terrific painting.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/19/05 02:25 PM

The Myth about the Chinese Acrobats bringing the trick to England as you mentioned, was shot down by Topper Martyn, who told me there was never any mention, article, poster, nothing to mention that.
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Postby Guest » 07/19/05 02:29 PM

The painting in question was done by Giacomo Mantegazza in 1876. I have a part of it up on my webpage here http://members.aol.com/payne/art.htm.
There is an early references to a concercation of rings but I am unaware of any for the linking rings as we know them today
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Postby Ray Eden » 07/19/05 02:41 PM

Payne,

Thanks for the painting reference.

Pete, thanks for helping to clear up the Europe myth. I'd love to hear the info you have regarding the performer from Brussels. Could you be referencing the quote from Cardano below?

Here are two quotes that I've found:

Cardano, writing at the beginning of the 16th century stated:

"Fastening chains of iron, the links remaining whole: it was thus, thrown up in the air, I saw three rings fall and interlink, hitherto whole and separate... "

and

The following poem from the 13th century offers an even older origin:

Later, you shall juggle with three knives,As does Condarel (the monkey),
Throwing them upwards, then downwards,
But with ten rings it would be impossible to do,
Unless in each one, you put two...

Magickally,

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Postby Pete Biro » 07/19/05 04:05 PM

Cardono's info seems the better source. The juggling one, not heard but doesn't sound like linking...
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Postby Guest » 07/19/05 04:44 PM

One other question... can someone tell me the artist of the painting depicting a topless woman apparently performing the Linking Rings. The painting depicts Arabs and an Arabic setting.
That's some miss-dirrection......Mike
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/21/05 05:24 PM

Funny, being a magician... I didn't even notice she was topless!

Remember that George Karger photo in LIFE Magazine... a group of magicians in a strip club and someone was doing a sleight and nobody was watching the woman taking her clothes off. A classic shot.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 07/22/05 06:21 AM

Pete, that same scene was played out again in March in Atlanta's Cheetah club. Several attendees of the Second Deal convention had gone downtown and were sitting around doing card stuff while the "ladies" were working. A comment back at the convention site later suggested that they had shown those girls that yes, Virginia, there are indeed bigger nerds than Star Trek fans.

I was at the convention when this comment was made, which is how I know about this. Somehow I missed the Cheetah excursion.

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Postby Spellbinder » 07/25/05 10:44 PM

Technologically speaking, wouldn't the invention of the Linking Rings have occurred after there was a way to weld the ends together or is that just the way it's done today? Are there any metal workers who can comment on the technology needed to make say a five inch ring or larger in one solid circle?
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Postby Ray Eden » 07/26/05 02:51 PM

It wouldn't have been a problem for the smithies of the time to knock out a set of rings. These guys were making swords and what not. Look at the Bosch painting and you'll see a ring leaning against the table. Rings were definitely not out of the norm for the time.

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Postby Pete Biro » 07/26/05 03:23 PM

The ring in the Bosch painting was for the dog to jump through. I am going to the King Tut exhibit next weekend and I'll be you will see rings (bracelets and neck adornments) all in one continuous loop.

Like the ones I found, dated 200 BC at the Prague National Museum.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/26/05 03:26 PM

... AND... the linking rings Jay Marshall used were not gotten from a magic shop
:p
As a young man Jay went to a blacksmith and had the rings made. He had them made a particular size, based on "just" fitting over his head, but getting "caught" by his nose (for a funny face gag) as he tried to lift the ring off his head. :D
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Postby Allen Tipton » 07/29/05 06:25 AM

Dear Pete Biro. You say there is no mention of the Linking Rings on any poster etc to help with dates of origin or performance over here. Well, on Monday 15th. November 1965, Eric Franklin( author of Making Pictures With String)gave a lecture dem. at the Magic Circle. His notes were reported in The Magic Circular mag. No. 674, Vol 60 dated September 1966.Against this artice (on page 196) is a reproduction of a fly bill, owned by MC member Edward D. Crick of Belmont Surrey. The date on the repro is very visible, Monday June 4th. 1827. It advertises the last Night of Mr. Usher's show and the relevant paragraph reads, 'Mr. Usher will give the exact representation of those celebrated Men, The INDIAN & CHINESE JUGGLERS,. Amongst various astonishing feats he will thread small beads on a Thread with his tongue only!- He will introduce the admired Chinese defence with two gilt balls. He will go through that truly astonishing performance with EIGHT SOLID BRASS RINGS,linking them into a large chain and in an instant unlinking them into numerous ingenious devices and will at desire, give his unequalled imitation of the feathered creation and conclude with his grand Canary Concert' WOW.
The repro was placed with the article to back up Mr. Franklin's theory that the Rings appeared'130 years ago' ie around this date. It still doesn't help with where they really originated but is a fascinating addition to The History Of The Linking Rings.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/29/05 08:56 AM

Alan: Thanks for the reference... my source was Topper Martyn, and it looks like a Playbill escaped his careful eyes.

But, it appears that it could have been an "INDIAN" not a "CHINESE" performer, no?

Topper's reference was to the Playbills of the Chinese troupe that has been referenced, incorrectly, for these many years.

Any chance you could get me a photocopy or a duplicate of the magazine reproduction?
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Postby Ray Eden » 08/02/05 05:16 AM

I would like to see a copy of that playbill too. Thanks for the info Allen.

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Postby Pete Biro » 08/02/05 07:46 PM

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Postby Allen Tipton » 08/12/05 03:02 AM

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Postby Allen Tipton » 08/12/05 03:23 AM

I'm still awaiting a clearer copy of the fly bill showing the Rings being performed in 1827. In my researches I have found a bill showing Khia Khan Khruse (Chief of the Indian Jugglers) performing at York(UK) in 1816,,yes 1816.
and on this bill there is ' TEN SOLID BRASS RINGS', In none of which can any break be discovered.He will perform very peculiar tricks; namely separating and exhibiting, handing therm about separately for inspection amongst the visitors and then at one touch, linking them together in various forms, sometimes like a chain, a pair of spectacles, a Globe&c.Then with talismanic influence shaking them asunder on the floor' Whew. It's from The Great Illusionists by Edwin A. Dawes, page 134, published by David & Charles Ltd. 1979. In USA Chartwell Books Inc., Secaucus, New Jersey, 07094. ISBN no. 0-89009-240-0. Library of Congress catalog no. 79-50434. Eddie Dawes wanted a different titel to the book but the publishers....
There's also a great story in David Price's Pictorial History. ( 1985), page 499, about Ching Ling Foo, born in 1854, travelled extensively doing magic in China and becoming Conjuror to the Chinese Empress. He was performing at the Omhaha
Exposition in 1898 and saw Leon Herrmann perform the Chinese Rings and this was not being done by his troupe; a trick the public equated with China!! He watched with cold expressionless countenance, hired the theatre a few days later and performed the Rings with great skill, rolling them along the floor etc. At the end of the routine he THREW them into the wings with a single, contemptuous 'Bah' then went on with his own specialities as if to say, This is what REAL
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Postby Allen Tipton » 08/12/05 03:35 AM

Ching Ling Foo contd.
perform.From the description I conclude that the most travelled (in China)Chinese magician had never seen the Rings before. On several other old fly bills the Rings are often described as, 'The Hindoo Rings' and 'The Hindoostan Rings' The more I look the more I agree with Pete Biro and Topper Martyn that the Rings probably originated in India; long famous for it's metal work.The Indian Link Trick has long, long been in the Jadoowallah's repertoire.See Indian Conjuring by Major Lionel Branson & his other book, 'Supplementary Magic' (written under the the pen name 'Elbiquet') The Link Trick is done with flat rings (usually about 3 1/2. inches in diameter & approx. 1/4 inch thick) which link, unlink etc. As far as I can discover Indian Jugglers/magicians were in the West before Chinese ones.
One thing has become certain, Phillipe ( whose assistant Macallister left him & performed the Rings) was NOT the first to perform them in the West.I had found all this info. reasearching the Rings for an American magician friend THEN Today (13th.Aug) I happened to look at, the beginning of Sam H Sharpe's Index on Oriental Magicians, found in Oriental Conjuring & Magic by Will Ayling. Supreme magic 1981.) Lo & behold he too had found the Khia Khan Kruse playbill and the 1827 fly bill in The Magic Circular) It goes to show NONE of us really reads our magic books.We must read the prefaces etc. as well !Also in Eddie Dawes book, on page 58 there is a front piece from Fairburn's New London Conjurer published in the 1820's showing a fairground booth with Gyngell performing magic & on his table are 3 Rings, which look linked!Then in Hugards Magic Monthly Vol. 7 No. 3, Aug 1949 on page 572 there is a JH column on the Rings quoting Le Journal De la Prestigitation July/Aug)
describing in the Hieronymus Cardeneus book,'de subtilitate' how he witnessed a feat of jugglery by the renowned Spanish Chevalier Damautus at the Court of Charles V, of large rings thrown into the air, that were solid and detatched but when they fell they were solidly linked together!This was in 1554. Whew.
Keep searching and researching.
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