The Mysterious Selffilling Lota

This effect is usually credited to the Hindus but it is performed by the Chinese also.


A lota, or bowl, is filled with water. Water is then poured out into a bucket or jar and lota shown empty. Performer states that he will cause water to flow from his eyes or his ears. He places his eyes down on top edge of lota for a moment and then pours more water out of lota. Next he places the lota to his ear and again water is poured out of lota. He may cause water to flow into the lota from his elbows also. Each time lota is apparently emptied.


1 -- A special lota. We can supply you with this. Lotas are made in a variety of shapes, but the one usually used is shaped as shown in Figure 86.

Picture Lota Bowl Magic Trick

Its secret lies in the fact that it can be shown empty while secret compartment holds water. A cylindrical tube extends from the mouth of the lota to the bottom, thus making two compartments -- one inside of the tube and the other all around the lota between the tube and the outside. Inside of tube is painted dead black so that when audience sees it, it appears to be inside of lota.

Figure 87 is a diagram of the arrangment of lota.

In the bottom of the tube there is a hole, an eighth to a quarter of an inch in diameter through which secret compartment is filled. At top edge of lota there is another hole through which air enters causing enough pressure to cause water to flow from secret compartment into tube.

Figure 88 is a cross-section view of lota.

Figures 89 and 90 are cross-section views of lota filled with water and of lota apparently empty but with water in secret compartment.

To Prepare:

The Oriental performer either has his lota already filled with water or he brings it out empty and submerges it in a bucket of water to fill it. To save time in our modern-day performances, however, it is well to have lota filled beforehand. To fill it, submerge in a pail of water and give it enough time to fill properly. Then remove lota and wipe off outside.

Here I shall teach you the Oriental presentation, but you can easily adapt it to modern patter and performance, if you desire.

To Perform:

Bring filled lota forward.

Pour water from tube in lota into pail. To do this, turn opening of bowl toward audience and then down. Turn bowl upright and then down again as though to empty last few drops forcefully. As you do this, be sure to keep thumb or finger over air hole at upper edge of lota.

Figure 91.

Now hold lota in left hand, releasing finger from air hole and bring lota to upright position again. Water will flow from secret compartment into tube until the level is equalized.

Look up into air and make a gesture upward.

"Water up high -- clouds, rain. Water, too, in ears (point to ear) -- eyes (point to eyes) -- elbows" (show elbow).

Bend head over to right side and hold lota up to ear with both hands. Hold position for a few moments.

Figure 92.

"Ear, much water."

Empty lota into pail, shaking it dry. Bring it upright again and water will flow into tube from secret compartment.

Now bend head forward and hold lota up to eyes for a few moments.

Figure 93.

"Water from eyes."

Pour water into pail, then bring upright and water will again flow into tube.

This time place lota against bared elbow and hold for a few moments.

"Water from elbow."

Pour water from lota into pail.

Each time there is less water to pour out, but you can continue the production of water as long as it makes a good showing.

Lota Comedy -

Some performers use the lota effect as a comedy adjunct to their acts. After performing an experiment, performer goes over to table and picks up lota, then empties. He proceeds with another effect and then empties lota again. He continues to do this several times between effects with excellent comedy results.

Edwin Brush, the well-known magician, works the lota effect by pouring six glasses of water from it. He pours the six glasses back and finds that this time the lota is filled to overflowing. It appears that he has produced much more water than the lota originally held. In pouring water back into lota, it is necessary to keep air hole covered with thumb so that water will not go into secret compartment readily and thus overflowing effect can be produced. Also if you desire to keep water in tube, fill lota speedily and water will not have much time to get into inner compartment. If hole in tube is too large, plug it with magician's wax.


This was an interesting number on Foo's program. His sense of showmanship and presentation added to the interest.


Performer shows a Chinese can, narrow at the top with a funnel edge. He turns it upside down and spins it on his wand, then suddenly pours water out of the can. He repeats this several times, showing the can empty, yet pouring water from it at will.


1 -- A Ching Ling Foo Water Can. We can supply this. Figure 94 shows can as it looks to audience.

Figures 95 and 96 show the two compartments A Figure 95 and water is compartment A and level and B. Then if can is t water will go over into can is continued until be held in compartment water can be poured out it is apparently empty


cross-sections of can. Notice and B. When can is upright as in poured into it, water goes down s itself between compartments A ipped with A up and B down, compartment B. If turning of bottom is up, all the water will B. Thus when can is upright, of it and when it is bottom up for no water comes out of it.

To Prepare:

Place the necessary amount of water in can to fill B when can is turned over. Should there be any excess, it would do no harm as it would run out when can is turned over and can may be shown empty after that.

Figure 97

To Perform:

Pick up can and turn it over so that water will all go into compartment B. Put end of wand into A and spin can around on wand.

Figure 97

Remove wand from can and strike outside of can with it several times. Now turn can upright. Strike it again several times with wand, then reach up into air with wand and bring tip of it down to top of can. Turn can over and pour out a little water.

Figure 98.

Repeat routine, varying it a bit here and there for additional interest, and pour out water at will.


This is typically a Chinese effect and most interesting for the magician in the Orient who plays in the open. However, it can be adapted for American or European performance with good effect. The effect is usually done on the ground, but I teach it to you here for performance on a table.


Two, three, or four soup bowls are on the table, tops down. Performer casually turns two of them up, looks inside, and replaces them on table. He then rolls a piece of tissue paper into an inch-size ball and places this on table over to right. Picking up a bowl in each hand, he places left-hand bowl down on table to left and covers ball of paper with right-hand bowl. He says that he will cause the ball to jump over to the opposite bowl, but on lifting the bowls, it is seen that ball is still in the same place. Magician then places right-hand bowl aside. Saying that he will make the ball jump, he picks it up with his right hand and places it under the left-hand bowl. In a moment left-hand bowl is lifted, and the ball has mysteriously changed into an egg. Egg is then covered with bowl and uncovered again, only to have changed into a frog. Explaining that the egg did not hatch right, magician covers the frog and when he uncovers it, out comes a baby chicken in its place.


1 -- Two or three metal bowls, shaped like high soup bowls.

2 -- A special soup bowl, the same in appearance as the other bowls, but specially prepared inside.

3 -- A piece of tissue paper about six inches square. An egg, a frog, and a baby chicken. A ball of cotton or some other object may be substituted for the frog. Or two baby chickens may be produced -- one black and one white.

4 -- An undraped table. SECRET AND PATTER:

To Prepare:

The Special Bowl -

Study the illustrations carefully and you will have no difficulty in understanding the principle on which the working of this bowl is based.

Inside of the bowl there is a special metal insert with four wings, which separates the bowl into four compartments. Through the middle of the insert runs a small tube to pass a wire through.

Figure 99.

Figure 100 shows a view from mouth of the bowl with metal insert soldered into bowl. Here you see the four partitions and middle tube. The partitions should fit snugly against sides of bowl and should come down within about half an inch of top edge.

A special circular cover is made of metal to fit just inside top of bowl over metal insert. One quarter-section of this cover is cut out so that only three compartments are covered. A wire is soldered to center of cover so that it extends straight upward. On one edge of cut-out section, there is a small tip, like the point of a pin, extending downward about a sixteenth of an inch.

Figure 101.

Cover is placed over metal insert in bowl so that wire extends upward through middle tube. A hole in bottom of bowl comes directly over tube so that wire can extend up through bottom of bowl. On outside of bowl, wire is bent over, or, better yet, cut off close to bowl and a flat button soldered over end to keep wire and cover from falling out.

Figure 102 shows a view from mouth of finished bowl. Cover is in place with one section open and the little tip extending away from inside of bowl.

Figure 103 shows cross-section view of finished bowl, bottom up. When bowl is placed on table in this position and is turned while held firmly on table, the small tip will catch in table or tablecloth and will keep the cover from turning. Thus while bowl is turned, cover remains stationary, and any section of bowl can be brought over opening of cover.

A different Chinese character should be placed on outside of bowl opposite each compartment so that you can quickly locate each object you have inside merely by looking at outside of bowl. Bottom of bowl should have a character painted over the button to help conceal it. Unprepared bowls should be decorated in the same manner.

Now before performing. Have opening of cover over compartment A, then turn it over compartment B and place an egg in this compartment. It is well to line B with felt to prevent rattling of egg. Next turn opening to C and put the frog in. Turn to D and put the baby chicken in. Finally turn cover back with opening over A.

Figure 104.

Arrange the bowls, bottoms up, on right side of table with an unprepared bowl first, the prepared one next, and finally

the other one or two bowls. The purpose of having these unprepared bowls is misdirection.

Place tissue paper in pocket.

To Perform:

Pick up first bowl and look inside, perhaps blowing out a bit of dust. Let audience see inside of bowl without calling attention to it. Replace on table.

Pick up third bowl and go through similar procedure. Pick up fourth bowl, if you have a fourth, in left hand and place mouths of two bowls together, allowing audience to see insides as you do so. Then replace bowls on table.

Take piece of tissue paper from pocket, roll it into ball, and place on table a little to the right. Pick up prepared bowl in left hand, being careful not to expose prepared inside. Pick up first unprepared bowl with right hand, lifting it higher and showing inside-Figure 105.

"I place one bowl here."

Place left-hand bowl on table at left.

"And the other bowl over this ball of paper."

Cover ball of paper with right-hand bowl.

"The ball will jump from under this bowl to this one over here. I say one - two - three — jump."

Lift left-hand bowl, revealing nothing. Lift right-hand bowl, showing paper ball still on table.

"He did not jump. Funny — he usually jumps."

Place right-hand bowl aside on table.

"Maybe he wants me to help him jump."

Pick up ball of paper in right hand and place it under left-hand bowl. Place ball on table so that all can see it, then cover with bowl so that compartment A comes directly over it. Turn bowl on table to right far enough to swing cover over compartment A with the ball and expose compartment B with the egg. Raise bowl in left hand, revealing the egg on the table.

"No wonder the ball of paper would not jump. He was just going to hatch into an egg."

Pick up egg and show, replacing it on table. Cover egg with bowl so that opening of cover comes over it. Then turn bowl to right again far enough to cover compartment B with the egg and expose compartment C with the frog. Lift bowl, showing frog.

"Egg hatches to frog. Not so good. Not such a good egg. Let's try it again."

Cover frog with bowl. Turn bowl to cover compartment C with frog and expose D with the chicken. Lift bowl again and show the baby chicken. This makes a very pleasing ending for the experiment.

REVIEW Lessons 38 to 49

It is time now for you to go back and review once more. Do you realize what a vast fund of information and what a thorough education you have gained in Magic up to this point? If you don't, a complete review will bring it home to you with great force. And if you do, this review will give you a tremendous satisfaction in the knowledge of the big thing you have accomplished.

Turn back to Lesson 13 for the first section of your review, Lesson 25 for the second section, Lesson 37 for the third section, and finally to this lesson for the fourth section.

This outline covers Lessons 37 to 49:

Lesson 37 -- Oriental Magic, including the principles of many mysterious knots and ties and of cut and burned tapes.

Lesson 38 -- Oriental Magic continued, giving you my original Japanese thumb tie -- principles of a chemical trick -- an effect with sticks -- an effect with balls -- principles for productions and vanishes in a grain trick -- an excellent lantern production. In this lesson you learn Chinese, Japanese, and Hindu Magic.

Lesson 39 -- A variety of principles and effects in Handkerchief Magic -- some original with me and some used on the programs of the world's best magicians. Color-changing handkerchief, dyeing silks, and flag effects in this lesson.

Lesson 40 -- Important discussion of Character Analysis in relation to Magic. Also effects with handkerchiefs, flags, ribbons.

Lesson 41 -- The wonderful principles of Billiard Ball Manipulation with excellent effects, utilizing these principles.

Lesson 42 -- Novelty ideas for inexpensive magic, presented in original effects by Arthur Pope, Cardini, Bert Douglas and myself. Included are color-changing handkerchiefs, billiard ball combinations, fruit and candy effects, as well as the famous Popping Corn in a Hat.

Lesson 43 — Great principles for coat and hat productions. Rabbits, of course, as well as other objects.

Lesson 44 -- Chemical and Mechanical Magic. The famous wine and water effect and cooking magic are included. Valuable principles for novel magic explained.

Lesson 45 -- Spiritualistic Magic, teaching you principles used by spirit mediums as well as magicians. How to perform a seance explained.

Lesson 46 -- Continuation of spirit magic, giving dark seances, thought projection, cabinet seances, and a chain escape.

Lesson 47 — Principles and routines of the Linking Rings used by Laurant and Namreh.

Lesson 48 -- Principles on which the world-reknown Hindu Mango Tree Growth is based — also other plant growths, an effect by Kolar, and my own mysterious Hindu Plant Growth and fire-cracker effect are included.

Lesson 49 -- Wonderful Chinese Magic, presented in this lesson.

Additional paraphernalia described in this lesson for replacement, etc., can be obtained from the Tarbell System at the following prices, postage prepaid.

Self Filling Lota $5.50

Ching Ling Foo's Water Can 1.25

Continue reading here: The Tarbell Rope Mystery

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    How does a lota bowl work?
    3 years ago
  • Jennifer
    What trick is like a lota bowl?
    5 years ago