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Linking Rings

From Magicpedia, the free online encyclopedia for magicians by magicians.
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See also: Linking Ring Magazine .

The Linking Rings, or Chinese Linking Rings, is considered to be a classic of magic. In the traditional effect, solid metal rings appear to link and unlink, pass through each other, form chains and other complex patterns and configurations.

The number of rings used can vary from two, to as many as ten or more. A standard set of commercially available rings typically includes eight rings, and come in a range of sizes, from quite small, to very large.


Ching Ling Foo was one of the early performers of the Linking Rings in the form we know today. Speculation about the origin of the effect has led to Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East, and dates as far back as the 1st Century. A painting by Giacomo Mantegazza in 1876 shows a harem girl holding a set of rings above her head.

In 1988, Japanese magician Masahiro Yanagida performed his miniature linking rings routine, the Ninja Rings, using four rings that were four and a half inches (or 11.43 cm) in diameter. Since then, the Chinese Linking Rings have also become a favorite performance item for close-up magicians.

Number and Sizes of Rings

A quality set of eight linking rings can be obtained from a supplier of magic props. Most consider 8-inch diameter rings to be the smallest size suited for stage performance, while 12-inch rings are the most common for stage use; 15-inch rings are also available, but rarely seen in use. Larger sizes are often constructed from stainless steel tubing for the best combination of durability and weight. Professionals may wish to have a set of the larger-diameter rings for use on a stage, or a set of rings in the 4-5 inch range for "close-up" use.

Many magicians look for rings that make a nice tone when they strike each other.


Published Routines

  • 1932 WEBER, Herman - Namreh's Lincoln Ring Advertised as "a professional ring routine by Herman Weber, with the accent on figures such as the chain, flower, butterfly, purse, globe, etc." Released as an instructional booklet illustrated by Nelson Hahne.
  • 1937 IRELAND, Laurie - Ireland's Linking Ring Routine (1937), a four-minute, nine-ring routine that includes interaction with two audience volunteers. Originally published as a one-trick manuscript, illustrated by Nelson Hahne.
  • 1958 VERNON, Dai - Dai Vernon's Symphony of the Rings (1958), a seminal six-ring routine, published by Supreme Magic as a photo-illustrated instruction booklet written by Lewis Ganson. The booklet was reprinted in 1997 by L&L Publishing, and Dai Vernon can be seen performing the routine on Dai Vernon: Revelations, Volumes 3 & 4 (VHS 1982 or DVD, Vol. 2, 1999).
  • 1966 BLAKE, George - Perverse Chinese Rings, a now-famous comedy linking-ring routine using four rings, wherein the rings refuse to link where and when the magician wants, but somehow manage to become linked at the most awkward times, and in all the wrong places, including a button-hole on the magician's coat, and to the handle of a pair of scissors as he tries to separate coat from rings. The routine was published in Blake's book, Comedy Magic (1966), (reprint Micky Hades Enterprises, 1974).
  • 1973 ROSS, Richard - Three Ring Routine, a classical routine performed to music that many credit with reinvigorating declining interest in the effect when he performed it at FISM in 1973. The routine was later published in 1982 in a now out-of-print book.
  • 1981 CAPEHART, Chris - Chris Capehart's 3-Ring Routine, published in the New Stars of Magic series (Vol. 1, #13; 1981). A practical, interactive three-ring routine designed to draw a crowd on the streets, at trade shows, etc.
  • 1993 ANDERSON, Harry - Linking Rings, published in Harry Anderson, Wise Guy (Caveney, 1993). A brief overview of the seven-ring routine Harry Anderson used in the streets, focusing more on philosophy than methodology (e.g., from pg 50, "Once you've linked two rings you better think about wrapping things up. You've done it. Make a few pretty passes and get home early.").
  • 2003 CELLINI - Lord and Master of the Rings (2003), a two-ring routine performed to music and released on an instructional DVD of the same name.

Published Techniques

  • CARNEY, John - Dissolving Steel, a chapter on Carney's Book of Secrets, Volume 1 DVD containing two Linking-Ring moves that were taught to him by Faucett Ross and have, as far as he knows (or at least knew at the time of the taping), never appeared in print.


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