Almost before drawing breath, we meet two troupes of Indian magicians. One appears in the court of the Emperor Jahangir, early seventeenth-century Mughal ruler and aficionado of magic. In the first of twenty-eight tricks, this troupe of seven performers sprout trees from a cluster of plant pots before the emperor’s eyes, the luminous foliage heaving with fruits and songbirds. Four hundred years later, a group of jadoowallahs (street magicians) charm a hand-to-mouth living from the urban sprawl of modern-day New Delhi. In a small park, they levitate for audiences and magically escape the binds of knotted ropes. With similar – but less spectacular – effect to that woven by the performers of a Mughal court, they spirit a shrub-like tree out of what seems like thin air.
Alexandra Roginski reviews 'Empire of Enchantment: The story of Indian magic' by John Zubrzycki
Empire of Enchantment: The story of Indian magic
by John Zubrzycki
Scribe, $32.99 pb, 416 pp, 9781925713077
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Alexandra Roginski is a Melbourne-based writer and historian. She is the author of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief: Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery (Monash University Publishing, 2015).
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.