The Indian Rope Trick — mirrors, courtyards and the mid-air vanish

“So many stories have been told about this trick that I felt sure there must be some foundation for them, possibly a very simple trick, of which travellers had given exaggerated accounts.” John Nevil Maskelyne, English stage magician, 1912

I’ve been looking at accounts of the Indian Rope Trick — or Indian and Chinese Rope Trick — written from the 9th century (Śaṅkara) to the 18th century (Pu Songling).

Thanks to the clues they left us, I now have a reasonably simple explanation for the most…