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This is a translation and reformatting of Les Coussinets de la Princesse by Medjid K. Rezvani.
"... it was quite a surprise, a positive one, when I received a preview copy of the ebook of this wonderful booklet. Translated by Michael Landes, it provides a clear interpretation of the routine. The routine, itself, is called "les Coussinets de la Princesse" -- the little cushions of the princess -- and is also known as "The Tomato Trick." It's a nice piece of story magic, as well as a darn good trick. The book goes into how to construct the close-up mat, the construction of the "cushions," the proper type of wand and the correct type of bowl. It is a "must have" for bowl routine enthusiasts." - Bill Palmer
[Note: A performance of this bowls routine by Claude Rix mentioned above by Mr. Lorenceau can be seen in Ein Abend im Magischen Cercle: Episode 5, which is available as video download.]
" ...Les coussinets de la princesse is a major work and contains not only an explanation of the effect but also describes the handling of the wand for misdirection purposes... It's almost a course in misdirection, in scripting, in sleight of hand...Now it should be known that Claude Rix has been performing a shorter version of the effect for years, keeping the interest in the Medjid Khan Rezvani work." - Etienne Lorenceau
Rezvani describes in his foreword where the trick originated, what he has contributed, and where he has published pieces of it.
And here in the words of the translator Michael Landes:
This trick, originating in China, is one of a number of tricks known generically as The Cups & Balls. This trick first appeared in the Middle East about 1912-1913, brought by jugglers and tumblers from China, I was personally introduced to it in my childhood in Persia. It was then known under the name Cushions of The Princess. Totally unknown in Arabia and Africa, this diversion made its appearance in Europe about 1928-1929.
In an article appearing in #111 (1940) of Le Journal De Prestidigitation, M. Sardina describes the usual manner of performing this trick. With his usual attention to small detail, M. Sardina shows how the Chinese tumblers presented the trick with the accompaniment of fetishes and with the aid of a great deal of "whistling" (noises made with the mouth). French magicians no longer call the trick "Le Jeu des Tomates," the name given to this diversion by M. Sardina. M. Sardina's article, describing the Chinese presentation, is re-produced at the end of this monograph.
For my part, I've worked a long time on this trick to change the structure so as to make it suitable for the stage. I've had occasion these last years to present it in public, as well as in the salon, crouched on the ground, on the stage of the French theaters with my props on a table, as well as during a gala benefit in a park. Of this technique, which I later brought to perfection, one part is explained in La Magie Du Sorcier [editor: translated into English and published as The Magic Of Rezvani] and, one year later, in the book by my friend Alma, Le Jeu Des Gobelets, based on La Magie Du Sorcier as well as on (my) personal instruction. Finally another part saw the light of day in Rezvanimagie.
This book is thus the first treatment devoted solely to "les tomates" and in which I reveal all my technique and all of my passes. Permit me, in conclusion, to emphasize that in spite of its apparent simplicity, this trick of the greatest effect is difficult to perform well. As with all manipulative work, it will not suffer mediocrity.
Medjid Rezvani, 1950
About thirty years ago an acquaintance of mine brought me a new acquisition of his. Les Coussinets de la Princesse, by Medjid Rezvani, an entire book devoted to Rezvani's version of the cups and balls. As he couldn't read French, he was wondering if I would be willing to translate it for him. He was no mere collector of objects, he wanted the information. I told him I'd be glad to.
Now, I was already well aware of M. Rezvani, due to the very fine The Magic of Rezvani, by M. Sardina, but I'd never come across any reference to a book by Rezvani himself. Thirty years later, it still appears to be virtually unknown. Perhaps this should not be surprising for a book published privately in a small print run in French. But, there was something else that might have contributed to its subsequent obscurity.
What my colleague handed me was not a book. It was a sort of wallet. When unfolded, it revealed two compartments. One compartment was a pocket holding a 104-page book of very small dimensions, approximately 3 5/8" x 5 7/8." It had no illustrations. The second compartment was a strap holding some 90-100 loose sheets of paper. The sheets of paper were much larger than the dimensions of the book, about 5 3/4" x 8 1/2". Each sheet was a single pictorial plate. The images, mostly of hands, were about 3/4 life size.
This format may have been innovative, but it was an unmitigated disaster. What is needed is for the student to be able to take the articles in hand as he reads the text and refers to the illustrations. This simply could not be done. The tiny book did not open flat. You couldn't just lay it down and pick up props. A given illustration might be referred to a half-dozen times or more at as many different points in the book; But each illustration only existed on a single plate. So there was no single proper sequence for the images, they had to constantly be searched for as needed.
After experimenting with this format for quite a while, I concluded that it was simply impossible to learn from. I realized that if I merely translated the text for my friend, I would be wasting my time as it would be no favor to him at all. So I re-formatted the entire product on the model of a conventional book: In my finished version for my friend, each odd numbered page was text and each facing even-numbered page contained the appropriate figures, those referred to in the text of the facing odd-numbered page. As this was the pre-digital age of literal cut-and-paste, this certainly took me as long to accomplish as the translating, but it was worth it and I was pretty proud of myself.
For this ebook version, however, I've re-worked the format completely once again. The idea was simple. I wanted to insert the illustrations right into the text, at just that point at which they were cited. My purpose was to make the pages as easy to work from as possible. I hope I've succeeded to some extent.
1st French edition 1950. 1st digital English edition 2013, 140 pages.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Materials
- The Tomatoes
- The Bowls
- The Wand
- The Bags
- The Scarf
- The Juggler Scarf
- The Rug
CHAPTER TWO: Technique
- The Steal
- False Deposits
CHAPTER THREE: The Passes
- My Routine
- The First Pass
- The Second Pass
- The Third Pass
- The Fourth Pass
- The Fifth Pass
- The Sixth Pass
- The Seventh Pass
- The Eighth Pass
- The Ninth Pass
- The Tenth Pass
- The Eleventh Pass
- The Twelfth Pass
- The Thirteenth Pass
- The Fourteenth Pass
- The Fifteenth Pass
- The Seventeenth Pass
- The Eighteenth Pass
- The Nineteenth Pass
- The Twentieth Pass
- The Twenty-First Pass
- The Twenty-Second Pass
- The Twenty-Third Pass
- The Twenty-Fourth Pass
- The Twenty-Fifth Pass
- The Twenty-Sixth Pass
CHAPTER FOUR: Stage Presentation and Fantasies
- On Stage: The table
- Fantasies The Strolling Cushions (The Twenty-Seventh Pass)
- The Use of a Snake
- The Mobile Bowls
- Musical Accompaniment
- The Obedient Bowls
APPENDIX: Le Jeu Des Tomates by M. Sardina
word count: 19940 which is equivalent to 79 standard pages of text