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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Head of Ibykus, or Talking Skull

While your assistant shows the head around to the audience holding it on a platter or server, you put two chairs back to back, a short distance from each other.

At one side of stage is a small table on which lies your wand and over the wand lies a strong black thread, both ends of which lead off to your assistant behind the scenes or in the next room. Near this table stands a sheet of glass, which has been ground smooth on both sides. You fetch this, let it be examined, and as you return to stage, place it upright in your left hand, and let it lean against the left shoulder.

With your right hand pick up wand, thread with it, lay the hand on the upper narrow side of the glass plate, hold it out in front of you flat, i.e. level, and assistant lets thread loose enough and holds both ends wide apart, so that the middle lies around the right narrow side. As soon as this is done, place glass on the chair backs, pressing it down on the four corners where it strikes the chair sides, on top of which it rests and on each one of same is previously put little wax so glass rests securely.

Now assistant has the thread under control, it goes from his right hand over and across the glass, around the narrow side and back to his left hand, and he can pull it back and forth without its sticking.

You now take head, place it on glass behind the thread and take the upper thread, which assistant lets loose a little and loop it once around the pin in lower jaw. Now if assistant holds left thread securely and pulls on the right, the head nods, and if he pulls first one and then the other to and fro, head moves back and forth on glass. First meaning "Yes" second "no." Now you can put a globe over it to show there is no connection, but see that a foot is on the globe or a slit in it, that is towards front, so thread can move easier.

Now of course head answers questions, and tells chosen cards, and always looks or turns sideways whenever you face audience, but when you face it, it faces you or straight ahead as though nothing had occurred. This always awakens laughter, and finally you catch the head at it, and ask why he is always looking to one side, if his bride is there? And he answers with a yes. And so on, tells age of person, how many years before a young lady will marry, if she will be blessed with children, etc., etc., and to last question it keeps on nodding (knocking or rapping) till you command it to stop, and immediately goes at it again.

Now ask one or two gentlemen to come up and lift the glass globe and examine all. Before gentlemen get there; ask the head if he knows them, no. Ask if they can come up and examine him, yes; and as they approach, assistant lets upper thread loose, and pulls the lower slowly and quietly, and loop works off the pin and then pull in quickly so gentlemen can examine. If head is to answer by moving jaw, etc., take out the pin from upper right back of lower jaw, and then jaw moves on pulling the thread.

If head is to smoke, place it on table top, in which are two ferules fitting into holes in bottom of head, from the lower ends of these lead out two rubber tubes, back to assistant. Place a cigarette in left opening between teeth, hold match to it, assistant draws and blows smoke through the other tube, if smoke is not strong enough, assistant has another cigar to smoke, and head quietly smokes the cigarette while you prepare for another trick.

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