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Aztec Lady

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The Aztec Lady is a stage illusion designed by British magician Robert Harbin probably best categorized as a restoration.


The performance begins with the magician being joined by a spectator. A large upright cabinet is presented. It is just large enough to contain a person and has a stylized silhouette of a woman on the front. A female assistant is introduced and it is explained that the box divides into four sections, as indicated by lines on its front, and the assistant will be cut into four pieces. The box is opened and the assistant steps inside. She crouches down to show the individual sections of the box are apparently too small to hold her. She then stands up again and her wrists are tied to cords within the top sections of the box. It is pointed out that the only way she can move out of position would be to untie herself with her teeth and then re-tie herself at the end of the trick. The box is closed up and blades are inserted to divide it into four sections as indicated by the lines on the front. The top sections are then hinged downwards so that all four sections are resting on the ground. The bottom sections are also hinged apart—so the result is the four sections appear to be separated although they remain connected at their edges by hinges. The magician then brings out two swords. He thrusts one sword into a couple of the boxes and invites the spectator to thrust the other sword into the remaining sections. The box is then re-assembled and the blades are removed. The box is then hinged apart to show the girl safe and well and still tied up inside.


Harbin, who unveiled his Aztec Lady illusion in 1970, considered it as his finest. Even better then his more well known Zig Zag Girl.[1][2]

One performance in January 1972 involved The Vernon Sisters singing group as assistants. A brief glimpse of another performance is seen in the British television documentary Heroes of Magic.

Professional magician and friend of Harbin, Christopher Woodward, is the current holder of the exclusive performance rights of The Aztec Lady having purchased them from the Harbin estate after the inventor's passing. He still owns the original Aztec Lady apparatus built by Harbin.[need verification]


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  • R. Harbin, The Harbin Book, pub. M. Breese (1983), ISBN 0947533001
  • R. Harbin, Harbincadabra, brainwaves and brainstorms of Robert Harbin: From the pages of Abracadabra, 1947-1965, pub. Goodliffe (1979, Worcestershire, UK)
  1. Linking Ring, September, 1990, page 105
  2. Special Harbin issue, Magigram, April 1990