The Indian and Chinese Rope Trick — why it wasn’t as impossible as it looked…

A coiled cord is thrown at the sky, and stays up without visible support. A climber gets to the top and disappears. He returns to the Earth in bloody fragments. Then he is brought back to life.

It’s a visual sensation, which people have been writing about for over a thousand years. But could it actually have been performed? If so, how? If not, how did the story get started?

I’ve been looking at clues left by five writers about the trick from the medieval and early modern…