A vibrant narrative of India’s magical traditions and their journey across the world
India’s association with magicians goes back thousands of years. Conjurers and illusionists dazzled the courts of Hindu maharajas and Mughal emperors. As British dominion spread over the subcontinent, such wonder-workers became synonymous with India. Western magicians appropriated Indian attire, tricks, and stage names. Switching their turbans for top hats, Indian jugglers fought back, and earned their grudging respect.
This book tells the extraordinary story of how Indian magic descended from the realm of the gods to become part of daily ritual and popular entertainment across the globe.
Recounting tales of levitating Brahmins, resurrections, prophesying monkeys, and ‘the most famous trick never performed’, Empire of Enchantment vividly charts Indian magic’s epic journey from street to stage.
‘In The Empire of Enchantment, John Zubrzycki explores the history of magic rituals in India and the way they shaped western imaginations.’
The author … draws on the accounts left by travellers, merchants, pilgrims and missionaries.’
‘He has a pleasing sense of humour … and an eye for the absurd.’
‘John Zubrzycki’s Empire of Enchantment, a fantastic and thoroughly engaging history of Indian magic, is bristling with anecdotes … tales of conjurors, tricksters, illusionists, jugglers, and cunning conmen across the centuries.’