Sands Of Gobi


IT IS the humble opinion of the writer that this wonderfully effective feat, commonly known as the "Indian" or "Hindu Sand Trick," is of Chinese origin. At this late stage of magical knowledge it is passing strange to think that no correct explanation of the effect has appeared in print. This statement may seem impudent and far-fetched in the light of the present age of magical enlightenment. Let me ask the reader to be patient and to read the following explanation of the same effect as has been done by Chinese magicians for many, many years, before he forms any opinion. I believe that this is the first time the Chinese method has been revealed in print.

The effect has been written up by a few magical writers like Goldston, Carrington, Ainslie and Hilliard, and so it is quite well-known to magicians. Let me urge the reader to turn to Hilliard's Greater Magic for the best account of the methods used which though effective are not the same as the Chinese method. A list of references is given at the end of this article for interested readers and magical students.

Now follows the Chinese method. Very fine sand is required for this effect. The sand must be washed to be free from salt and other impurities. Separate it into three lots and colour them with dyes (say red, green and yellow). Dry them thoroughly and sift to free from coarse particles and bits of wood, stone, etc. Put a pint of sand into a pan and heat up. When it is heated sufficiently, put in a lump of hard wax; about the size of a walnut (a piece of tallow candle inches long will do) and keep stirring the sand over and over so that every grain is coated with wax. Then allow the sand to cool and, if the preparation has been carried out correctly it is quite imperceptible to sight, touch and smell.

SancI prepared this way will not ball up even if it is squeezed tightly in the hand, yet when a fistful is placed in water, it will remain in the form of a ball, being kept in shape by aqueous pressure just as a soap bubble is kept round by atmospheric pressure. This simple and scientific stratagem renders unnecessary such clever devices as waterproof bags, waxed packages, glass balls, eggshells, gelatine capsules, etc.

To perform, place the coloured sands in three small cups or bowls. Have three white plates ready to catch the dry sands and show up their colour. A metal basin, a pitcher of water and a small towel completes the set-up. This is an effect which will be enhanced by allowing the audience to examine the props used thoroughly.

Pour the water into the basin and, taking up a bowl, allow the sand to trickle in a stream into the palm of one hand. Just before placing the sand into the water close the hand into a fist and turning the fist over knuckles up, open up the hand in water and deposit the sand on the bottom of the basin. As mentioned before this handful of sand remains in a lump. Swirl the hand around to get rid of any grains of sand that stick. Take out the hand and dry it with the towel.

Repeat the process with the two remaining colours, placing each in a different spot. The water remains clear and these lumps are quite visible to you who alone have a direct view into the basin. You can stir the water around with the magic wand, taking care to keep it to the side. The lumps of sand keep their shape, ready to be produced when required. Just place the hand over the required lump and scoop it up in the fist which is shaken to get rid of excess moisture. Holding the hand with the back up or toward the audience, allow the dry sand to run on to one plate which is held below it.

Put the hand into the basin again, swirl it around to get rid of the sand particles sticking to it and pick up another lump of sand for a repeat. In the same way pick up the last lump. After the last colour has been produced, wash the hand in the basin, or you may scoop out the small amount of wet sand to display on a plate or a bowl. The water in the basin can now be poured back into the pitcher. It is quite clear as the preparation not only keeps the sand dry but also the dyes from running into the water.

References to the Hindu Sand Trick :—

1. Will Goldston's " The Young Conjuror,"

2. Hereward Carrington's " Hindu Magic " and

" Boys Book of Magic."

3. Arthur Ainslie's " Water Wizardry."

4. Major H. L. Branson's " Indian Conjuring."

5. J. C. Cannel's " Modern Conjuring for


6. Okito's articles on Indian Magic in the Sphinx for 1925-1926.

7. Joseph Dunninger's " Popular Magic," Vol. 3.

9. William Mayoh's " Magic of Hoyam."

10. Norman Hunter's " Successful Conjuring for Amateurs."

Note—The above references are not given as complete but are what I have been able to trace.


A new and effective dress for magicians is being set by Mr. Francis White, M.I.M.C. who is appearing at all entertainments this season in novel attire.

The dress takes the form of a shirt in silver and scarlet buttoned tight to the neck and fitted with an elastic waistband which is useful for holding loads or fakes.

Black dress trousers with dress shoes are worn, and the whole proves to be a smart combination of colour, suitable for performances at either adult or children's parties.

The new dress is especially useful for semiprofessional conjurers, who have only a small margin of time to complete a change of clothing, and it also overcomes the worry of discovering whether or not a conjurer should wear evening clothes for afternoon shows.

—The Magician, January, 1934.


Didn't expect ME did you!



FROM YOUR wallet or your pocket you remove four plain wage envelopes. From each envelope you take a coloured card. Each card is a different colour: blue, green, red, or yellow. The cards are returned to their envelopes which are carelessly shuffled and thrown on to the table. They are not sealed.

A spectator is asked to think of one of the four colours. As he does this, you deliberately pick up one of the envelopes. The spectator is then asked to think of a second colour, and you pick up a second envelope. (To avoid any possible misunderstanding, you explain, the two which remain on the table are picked up in your other hand and placed well out of the! way in your pocket).

The spectator is then asked to name for the first time the colours of which he was thinking. As each colour is named you slowly remove the corresponding card from one of the envelopes in your hand and throw it back on to the table.

To conclude the experiment the empty envelopes in one hand, and the other two envelopes from your pocket in the other, are thrown on top of the cards on the table where anyone who wishes to examine them may do so without any comment or attention from you.

Now I find that this experiment will usually start an argument for somebody is bound to point out straight away that the result is not at all unusual or clever because you had even chances of picking the correct two colours out of four by guesswork. But this is not the case; it is easy to see that the spectator could have thought of any one of six possible pairs of colours (there are : blue and green, blue and red, blue and yellow, green and red, green and yellow or red and yellow). The chances of your picking out the correct two colours by mere guess work, therefore, is one in six. In other words, the adds against it are greater than those against your picking only one colour correctly out of four!

No doubt you will be asked to repeat the experiment. Instead of doing this, persuade somebody else to try it. It will often be a surprisingly long time before he accidentally picks out both the colours which are being thought of.

The method of working this little experiment is simple, but subtle. To begin with, both the second envelope and the fourth envelope really

ASTRAL COIN—Continued from page 1

coin has gone where its astral form is, you nip the card at one side and, before removing it, just bend it a wee bit and coin is dislodged, ready to be revealed.

The above is very similar to a coin effect by Jacob Chasnoff, entitled " The Submarine Coin contain two differently coloured cards instead of one. When the cards are returned to their envelopes, therefore, the blue card goes into one empty envelope, the green card goes into one which already contains a duplicate blue card, the red card goes into another empty envelope, and the yellow card goes into one which already contains a duplicate red card.

The envelopes which are picked up from the table as the spectator is thinking of the colours are those which contain two cards. The other two envelopes are dropped into your pocket where you already have two emfty envelopes.

As the chosen colours are named the corresponding cards are taken from the appropriate envelopes in your hand and thrown on to the table. You are then left holding two envelopes, each containing one card. These are thrown on to the table with the two empty envelopes from your pocket. Anybody examining them now will not know which was which, and will merely find that there are— four cards and four envelopes.

There is one little snag, however, What are you to do if the spectator says that he has thought of blue and green, or red and yellow? In both cases the corresponding cards will be in the same envelope, and although there are possible ways of making it seem as though you are taking them out of different envelopes, none of them leaves the envelopes ready for a casual examination as in every other case above.

What I usually do is this. Suppose that the spectator names the colours blue and green. I remove the blue card from the envelope containing both the blue card and the green card, and the red card from the envelope containing both the red and the yellow. I apologise for getting only one of the colours correct, and offer to try again. I take the envelopes containing the green card and the yellow card from my pocket (instead of the empty ones), and now I am ready to start again at the beginning.

If the spectator then proceeds to think of the other two colours (red and yellow) I am forced to apologise again and offer to try a third time. Fortunately this has seldom happened to me, but at a third attempt you are almost certain to be right; only a very awkward person would think of either blue and green or red and yellow again.

Trick " in Goldston's " Magazine of Magic," of June, 1915, but the means employed and the plot are quite different. This paragraph is added for those who are interested in the interesting practice of tracing magical effects.

Tan Hock Chuan.

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