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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Cups & WOOLY-MAMMOTHS!!! Alright, alright...'cups & balls' (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

The Mighty Fool
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Mabye I just didn't see it, but I'm amazed that the origins of what is considered the OLDEST effect in magic dosen't seem to be on this thread! I mean...it goes all the way back to the 6th century according to recovered artwork, and that's just the earliest RECOVERED evidence of it that we have.

AS a matter of fact, it's origins AREN'T much older than the 6th century (NO.....the Egyptian Hieroglyh is NOT of two guys using a huge version of cups & balls! Theyre measuring & exchanging cakes!) If you like, I'll give you my take on it's origin, which I don't expect anyone to believe, seeing as I can't prove anything, nor can I describe my sources without being branded a total nutball.

So let's hear em'! Anyone ahve any ideas on this effect's geneology?
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Pete Biro
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Nice to see another hyroglyphic reader... anyone that thinks the two Egyptians are doing the cups and balls hasn't looked at the surrounding images...
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
deerbourne
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Mighty Fool, I'm confused on your date references. James Randi has references all the way from 65 A.D. to the 2nd or 3rd century (Conjuring pg 6).

Anyone have anything older than that?

Deerbourne
The Mighty Fool
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Deerbourne,

Hmmmm....I've looked and looked, are you sure the 65A.D. refrence isn't about the shell-game? Or the Roman 'bone-cup' gambling practice? The Randi book is on Amazon (if we're talking about 'conjuring') but is the excript online anywhere? If not, what's the title of the artwork in which the C&B is found in the 1st century? Or is it a literary refrence? If THAT'S the case, then it's quite a ground-breaking discovery!
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
Magicbarry
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Quote:
If you like, I'll give you my take on it's origin, which I don't expect anyone to believe, seeing as I can't prove anything, nor can I describe my sources without being branded a total nutball.

We're all nutballs here anyway, so I'd enjoy reading your take ... and whatever sources you're willing to cite.
The Mighty Fool
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Well, as I mentioned in the thread regarding the origins of the linking rings, I can't really get a firm grip on dates....there were apparently no such thing as calenders back then! Also, I can't make heads or tails out of the languages. A lot of people spoke Latin, and there was what SOUNDED like Arabic, and later (In Italy) I heard a lot of what was either a gutteral version of French, or a weird Germanic toungue. Near as I can tell, it all began somewhere around the NorthWest coast of Africa, because the Rock of Gibralter I recognized easily enough from a fishing voyage.

There were no Romans, so it had to be after the fall of that empire, people lived in mudbrick houses with the occasional house of wood, and sheep-herding was the big occupation. People wore dessert dress (loose fitting clothes with shade-providing headgear such as a veil) and the women had weird makeup designs on their faces....some men had them to, but mostly the gals. The whole region was in a state of war because some guy named "Kyoo-say-llaah" was fighting the "Myoossslems" (I think that meant 'Muslim') and the independence of the "Buh-buh" people was at stake.

Anyhoo, one of the most hated duties during this time was to be the one who had to do the purging thing to the camels. Every month, all manner of goods would be piled onto Camels for a trading excursion to some city called "See-yee-massa", and when the camels returned, it was widely feared that they may have picked up some foreign disease (the "buh-buhs" were a VERY clean people) which could then spread to the other camels, or to the people, or even worse, to the sheep! So, someone would go from camel to camel, with a bronze vat full of....something....whatever it ws full of the fumes from it would cause the camel to regurgitate violently when held under the camel's chin. By 'someone' I mean whatever poor sap was disliked or unlucky enough to pull this particular duty that month. The job was so unpopular, that a lottery system was desinged to choose who would do it. The slaves (usualy 12-22 of them) would sit at a long table, each slave holding a copper tea cup in his hand. Then, while the slave looked up at the ceiling, berries were rolled across the table at random intervals, and the slave could blindly slam down their cup whenever they wished. Any slave with a berry under his cup when he lifted it was excused, those with berries stayed. This was repeated till there were only 3 slaves left, and here's how it went: Slave #1 would put 1 to 3 berries uner the cups and mix them as much as he pleased. Slave #2 would then try to name which cup contained a berry. If his first guess was right, he had the option of either guessing again, or passing it on to slave #3. If #2 guessed right a second time, he was out. If he guessed wrong, he was the puke-farmer. If #2 passed, and #3 guessed right, then #3 was out, and it was #2's turn to do the mixing, with the contest now between him & #1.

Confusin' aint it?

Well, one slave, a captured warrior from "Ahl-and-uloos" who's king was some guy named "Roo-derrick", figured out a way to cheat at this game so he would never loose. He would have a 4th berry concealed on his person, and would eliminate both the other 2 slaves by having all 3 berries somehow end up under 1 cup! The Arabs (at least I'm pretty sure that's what they were) eventually took out the "kyoo-sah-leeah" guy, and conquered the "buh-buhs", whereupon Gastraika (the captured warrior with the cup-trick) galdly went along on the invasion of Spain to avenge himself against "roo-derrick" for not paying his ransom. Now a free guy, he taught the cup trick to a slave he liked to spare the slave from being the puke-farmer, and this slave one day ended up as an entertainer to a rebel "caliph" in Spain, and he passed it onto his sucsessor, who was captured after some huge battle across the Pyrenees against a whole bunch of Christians who were all named 'Frank' (wierd!!), and ended up performing the cup trick in South-central Europe.

"I'm not sure where it went from there, but as far as memory recalls,
That was the humble (and somewhat gross) begining for cups&balls.
Nessesity, they say, is invention's Ma, and here the nessesity was strong,
And if you doubt this tale, go smell a camel, then tell me if I'm wrong!"

Arividerci!
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
Jonathan Townsend
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There is a nice reference to something from ancient Greece in the Farelli book, John Ramsay's Routine with Cups and Balls that looks quite good.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Cups & WOOLY-MAMMOTHS!!! Alright, alright...'cups & balls' (0 Likes)
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