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Contents Pocket Notes—Stephen Minch 7 An Investigation into Magic in Japan after the Opening of the Country, Part VIII—Mitsunobu Matsuyama  9 Zamorano and the Criticism of Engaños a Ojos Vistas— Enrique Jiménez-Martínez  75 Fray Benito Jerónimo Feijoó on Magicians of Antiquity— translated by Lori Pieper  87 Attractive Treasury of Curiosities—Diego Joseph Zamorano translated by Lori Pieper  97 Where Zamorano Was Wrong (and Right)— Stephen Minch 177 Contributors 195

5 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

From Ikokujin No Mita Bakumatsu Meiji Japan by Shin-Jinbutsu Oraisha, 2005

Black Kairakutei dressed in komono style

AN INVESTIGATION INTO MAGIC IN JAPAN AFTER THE OPENING OF THE COUNTRY • Part VIII: Harry Black (Black Ishii) and His Chronicle of Japanese Magic Mitsunobu Matsuyama


hile this series has examined a considerable number of magicians who worked near the time Japan opened its doors and afterward, readers may wonder what effects, other than the Butterflies, Thumb Tie and Water Fountain Act were being performed. The reason for this patchiness in information is due mainly to the absence of a Japanese journal that covered the contemporary magic scene. Fortunately, the most valuable writings on Japanese magic effects and their presentation during the period have survived—in a series of articles in a widely read western magazine for conjurers! Their author was Black Kairakutei. Black Kairakutei was the first “Hen Na Gaijin Talent,” a foreign entertainer working within the Japanese entertainment industry, who resided in Japan and spoke colloquial, conversational Japanese. Although Kairakutei was born outside Japan, he became a popular professional storyteller in Japanese vaudeville theaters and enjoyed a great popularity throughout the Meiji Era. 11 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

M a g i c i n J a pa n a f t e r t h e O p e n i n g o f t h e c o u n t r y The papers are next caught on the open fan, and being taken up by the fingertips of the left hand, under pretence of repairing the wings, the silk is broken just below the second butterfly, then throwing them once more into the air, the performer fanning vigorously, walks about the room amongst the spectators, the butterflies flying about, attached to the now loose silk attached to his

Fig. 3: Butterfly Trick

forehead. (Fig. 4). They are then caught on the fan and crunched up. A very pretty way of ending the trick is to palm a packet of confetti and to fan from the left hand a cloud of white flakes resembling snow. M. M.: In the photographs, white thread, rather than black, is used to make it visible to the reader. There are several methods for attaching the thread. 27 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

Fig. 4: Butterfly Trick

M a g i c i n J a pa n a f t e r t h e O p e n i n g o f t h e c o u n t r y vanished, and each bowl is found to have a beautiful bunch of flowers springing from it. (Fig. 2). Directions.—The bowls must be exactly alike. The secret consists in having a disc of lead, just the size to fit inside the rim of one of the bowls. To this disc is fastened a spiral spring, six or seven inches high, and this spring is covered with a white silk bag, to which are sewn pieces of coloured silk, or still better some spring flowers,

Fig. 2: Bowl of Rice and Flower Trick

so as to make a pretty bunch of blossoms. A similar spring covered with flowers is also fastened to the bottom of the other bowl. (See Fig. 3). This shows the two bowls and the leaden disc with flower springs attached. Now to prepare for the performance. The spring in the bowl is pressed down, and the leaden disc with the flowers downwards is placed over it. If a little beeswax has been smeared round the edge 31 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

Fig. 3: Bowl of Rice and Flower Trick

M a g i c i n J a pa n a f t e r t h e O p e n i n g o f t h e c o u n t r y any general or convenience store. A similar effect used to be seen in street performances: A performer split a horizontal bamboo pole in half with one stroke of a single stick (a wooden sword), even though the pole is supported at its ends by only two weak paper rings. Although the pole is split in two, the paper rings remain intact. The principle behind this feat, though, is different from the “Chopstick Trick” Black explains. Instead of an extended finger, inertia is the operative force.

THE GREAT ROPE TRICK. The performer introduces two long pieces of cord or thin rope, each about twelve or fourteen feet long. He passes these through his hands showing them to be without preparation, then bringing them round his waist, he ties them in front. Then, taking the right ends, he brings the ropes under his right arm behind his back over the left shoulder, and the left ends under his left arm and behind his back over his right shoulder.

Fig. A: The Great Rope Trick 41 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

M a g i c i n J a pa n a f t e r t h e O p e n i n g o f t h e c o u n t r y from the pocket, opened out, and the corner is shown to fit exactly, proving it to be the same sheet of paper. M. M.: I don’t know where and when this trick was invented. The vanish of the wadded-up paper, leaving behind a visible corner, has long been performed by western conjurers. In recent times a paper napkin is most often used.

COKURI-SAN This, the only spiritualistic trick that the Japanese have, can be worked up to cause much laughter. Its effect will be understood from the following patter:— “I have here a ‘gohei’ (stick about two and a half feet long with zig-zag strips of folded paper attached; see Fig. 1) representing a mysterious being ‘Cokuri-San.’ You will kindly observe that it is perfectly unprepared, and that there is no deception about it. Here is also a sake (wine) bottle, empty, and above suspicion. There is not even the smell of spirit about it. I will stand it upon this little table, and place the ‘gohei’ in it. (Fig. 1.) Cokuri-San is now ready to answer any questions about the past, present, or future that any of you may desire to ask him. He will move up and down three times for ‘Yes’ and once for ‘No.’ Mr.  Cokuri, I hope that you are feeling well this evening?’’ The gohei moves up and down three Fig. 1: Cokuri-san 59 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

Page from Thesoro atractivo de curiosos citing ancient references to conjurers

Zamorano and the Criticism of Engaños a Ojos Vistas Enrique Jiménez-Martínez


n 1733, Pablo Minguet’s Engaños a ojos vistas (Deceptions in plain sight) became the first book published in Spanish on the secrets of conjuring. This alone would have ensured its importance in the history of magic. This importance, though, was amplified by its immediate and sustained success, which resulted in many editions, making it a highly influential book for Spanish-reading magicians. As I discussed in my article “Minguet and His Deceptions in Plain Sight” (Gibecière, vol. 4, no. 2, Summer 2009, p. 19), a second printing of Minguet’s book on conjuring was required very soon after the first, and pirated editions appeared swiftly, to fulfill public demand. This popularity endured well into the nineteenth century. Approximately seven years after its initial publication, a less enthusiastic response to Don Pablo’s treatise appeared in the form of a critical analysis and refutation: Thesoro atractivo de curiosos, y desengaño de ­engaños: ­impugnación de los juegos de manos del libro intitulado: Engaños a ojos vistas, &c., que dió a luz Pablo Minguet... written and published in 1740 by Diego Joseph Zamorano. Zamorano was an interesting and colorful character who personally knew Minguet, and who seems to have been a semi-professional or professional conjurer. Judging from his writing, Zamorano gives an impression of being an educated man, although without literary pretentions. The naturalness of 77 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2



The Sleight-of-Hand Tricks In the book titled:

Deceptions in Plain Sight, &c. published by Pablo Minguet.

Rules for performing all the feats of skill with the Hands, and with Cards, that have been invented up to now.

Its Author Diego Joseph Zamorano, native of the Town of Brunete, and resident of this Court. W it h License .

In Madrid: 1740 [translated by lori pieper]

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TRICK I. TO BRING OUT ON THE POINT OF A SHORT Sword,12 blindfolded, the card the bystanders have seen. ou can do this Trick in two ways. The first will be with a deck of forty Aces of Coins, which you will shuffle, and ask [someone] to take one and look at it, and when it has been again put into [the deck], after again shuffling, you will put it spread out on the table, face down, and when you pierce one of them, it will be precisely the one that they saw. The second way is by the deck having one card that is longer, or wider than the rest, which you will find in almost all of them; because as in the Factory they cut them freehand, it is very p­ ossible


Gibecière ‹› Summer 2011 • 118

A t t r a c t i v e Tr e a s u r y o f C u r i o s i t i e s

TRICK IV. TO MAKE IT SO THAT THE CARD ANOTHER has in his pocket is changed into a Mouse.


ou will do this Trick, having first cut enough cards in a [hollow] square, leaving the edges whole, so that when the middle part is brought out, you [can] sew all the frames one on top of the other by the corners; then you will glue a whole card on top of them, and the deck will come to be apparently whole, but hollow. When this has been done, you will take a little Mouse and someone else will hold it for you by the nape of the neck while you give it two or three little stitches with a needle and silk [thread] in the snout, so that it does not bite. You will carry it in a handkerchief, and when you want to do the Trick, you will hide the good deck, and bring out the hollow one you put the Mouse inside, and underneath [it] six cards, so that they hold it up; and [then] you are to take cards from the bottom, putting one into each pocket of different persons, and in the one of some male or female servant you will let the Mouse fall, as you put the deck into it, so that he [or she] does not see it fall; and if it can be done with the arms bare, it will be better, so that they do not suspect anything. Now

123 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

D i e g o J o s e p h Za m o r a n o the deck, and ­performing the same things with all [of them], you will remain with your card, the one that you will go on showing to each one individually, and saying: “Is this one yours?” And when he says to you, “yes,” you will answer: “It is not, it is the one belonging to the gentleman,” and showing it to someone else, you will see how he says it is his, and so on with the rest, to which you will answer (if, let’s suppose, the one you showed all of them was the Seven of Cups): “Could it be that the whole deck contains only Sevens of Cups?” At this time, you will turn the whole deck face up, and finding there are no more [Sevens of Cups] than that one, they will be confused; and if you do this [trick] (being skillful) before doing something with the deck of cards that are the same, they will believe everything you do by that method, without suspecting anything.

TRICK XIX. TO THROW THE DECK AT THE CEILING, and leaving it stuck [there], and [with the cards] scattered, to have the cards fall that those present ask for.


ou will do this Trick better in your home than in someone else’s; whether it is in one or the other, it is in this form: You

Gibecière ‹› Summer 2011 • 152

The beginning of Zamorano’s challenge to Minguet in Thesoro atractivo curioso

Where Zamorano Was Wrong (and Right) Stephen Minch


iego Joseph Zamorano’s Attractive treasury of curiosities, and undeceiving from deceptions is indeed attractive, providing a double treat, in the way literary attacks sometimes do; first, of perversely enjoying strident invective at another’s expense, then of catching with equal enjoyment the critic in errors as great or greater than those of his target. For students of conjuring history, Zamorano vs. Minguet has the added satisfaction of illuminating two views of the state of conjuring in eighteenth-century Spain and, by extension, much of Europe. Through the heat and necessity of argument, details are dragged out that otherwise would have disappeared in the cellars of history. It is interesting to speculate on Zamorano’s motives for writing Attractive treasury of curiosities and undeceiving from deceptions. He gives his putative reason in his subtitle: Challenge to the sleight-of-hand tricks in the book titled: Deceptions in plain sight, &c. published by Pablo Minguet. Zamorano, who represents himself as an experienced professional conjurer, had read Minguet’s impressive book on the secrets of magic, the first published in the Spanish language, and found it the work of a compiler of information from others, full of the oversights expected from one without a performer’s experience. Specifically, Zamorano points to Ozanam’s Récréations mathématiques et physiques as Minguet’s source of information. While Pablo Minguet depended on various resources, the expanded edition of Récréations mathématiques et physiques was 179 • Volume 6 ‹› Number 2

Gibecière Vol. 6 No. 2  

Gibecière Vol. 6 No. 2