The Diary of H. M. the Shah of Persia

Source: J.W. Redhouse (trans.), The Diary of H. M. the Shah of Persia, during his tour through Europe in A.D. 1873 (London: J. Murray, 1874), pp. 126-128

Text: [15 June 1873] In the evening we went to the theatre on foot, which was very near to our hotel. Many women and men were congregated. The theatre is very small—less even than the one at Hajji-Tarkhan, but very pretty, with three tiers of seats, and with a handsome chandelier lighted with gas. The curtain rose. A number of men and women conversed in French, representing love, love-making, and the like. Afterwards an astonishing conjuror came forward,—a young man of short stature, who had a very graceful wife. His name was Kaznow. In French jugglery is called “prestidigitation.” He performed some astonishing tricks, so that one became dumb-foundered.

For example. He took the people’s watches out of their fobs, and without interfering in any way with their regulation—without even laying them down—he showed that all of them pointed, for instance, to three hours after sunset. He then opened them and showed them, when one watch pointed to four, another to eight, a third to two, and so on.

He opened a large padlock. He then locked it, and gave it to the Mu’tamadu-‘l-Mulk, who was sitting in a box near to him. The Mu’tamad again locked it himself, and essayed to force it open, but could not. He then passed the lock on to a stick, and gave the two ends of the stick to two persons to hold. He next asked of the Mu’tamad : “How many do you wish that I shall count, and that the lock shall come open as I name that number?” The Mu’tamad said: “Twelve.” The juggler counted this number out, one by one; and when, on his pronouncing the word “open,” in the place of “twelve,” the lock opened.

He performed also some surprising feats of hocus-pocus. The Mu’tamad wrote down something on a piece of paper, which the cdnjuror burnt in the presence of all. He then went and fetched a packet that was carefully sealed with wax, which he gave into the hands of the Mu’tamad. He broke open the packet, and found therein a second packet similarly sealed up, and so on until twenty sealed packets had been broken open. Enclosed within the last was the paper with the writing upon it which the Mu’tamad had written.

He placed four large coins one by one in a small box, and consigned this into the hands of one of the company. He then placed a table at some distance, on which stood a china vase. He now ordered the coins to come into the vase ; and one by one, as they passed from the box and fell into the vase, we heard them chink. When the box was empty, he, went and fetched the vase from its place, and the whole of the coins were found in it. Before placing the vase on the table, he had shown to the company that it had nothing in it. He performed also many other tricks, which I cannot here narrate.

He now brought forward his wife and seated her on a chair. She was a very pretty woman, and elegantly attired. He put her to sleep by sundry rubbings with his hands. When she was asleep, his wife gave information of absent things; as for instance, the Mu’tamad wrote down: “This is a fine evening.” The conjuror asked his wife what had been written, and she, in the most charming manner, repeated the very words.

Comments: Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896) was King of Persia from 1848 to his assassination in 1896. He visited Europe in 1873, 1878 and 1889. This extract from his travel diary records a visit to a theatre in Spa, Belgium on 15 June 1873. I have not been able to find anything on a magician named Kaznow.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

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