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CONJEEVERAM—CONJURING

CONJEEVERAM, Kanchipuram, a town of British India, in the Chingleput district of Madras, 45 m. W.S.W. of Madras by rail. Pop. (1901) 46,164. It is esteemed by the Hindus as one of the holiest places in southern India, ranking among the seven sacred cities of India, and is remarkable for the number of its temples and shrines. Of these the old Jain temple, situated in a hamlet some 2 m. south of the Weavers’ quarter of the city (Pillapalaiyam), dates from the time when the Chola power was at its height (12th or 13th century), and is of great importance to the historian by reason of the inscriptions, which contain an almost perfect record of the dynasties who held the country. Older than this temple are the Vaikuntha Perumal temple of Vishnu and the Siva temple of Kailasanath, which date from the time of the Pallava kings. The great temple of Siva, dedicated to Ekambara Swami (the god with the single garment) is remarkable for its lofty towers (gopuram) and the extreme irregularity of its design, through which it gains in picturesqueness what it loses in dignity. Besides the towers, it has several fine porches, great tanks approached by flights of stone steps, and the “hall of the thousand columns.” This latter contains actually 540 columns, most of them elaborately carved, arranged in twenty rows. About 2 m. distant, in Little Conjeeveram, is the Varadaraja-swami Vaishnava temple, also containing a hall of pillars, beautifully carved, and possessing a wonderfully rich treasury of votive jewels. A mark on the wall of the inner enclosure, something like a horseshoe, is held to be the first letter of the name of Vishnu. For a century or more the Tangalai and Vadagalai sects, connected with the worship of the temple, have been quarrelling fiercely as to the form of this symbol; the questions arising out of this led to much litigation, and though final judgment was given by the privy council, the matter still constitutes a danger to the peace. The general aspect of the city is pleasing, with low houses and broad streets lined with fine trees. Its only noteworthy industry is the weaving of the superior silk and cotton sāris worn by native women.

Conjeeveram, a British corruption of Kanchipuram (the golden city), is very ancient, having been in the early centuries of the Christian era the capital of the Pallava dynasty. The Chinese traveller Hsiian Tsang, who visited it in the 7th century, says that it was then 6 m. in circumference and inhabited by a people superior to any he had met in piety and courage, love of justice and reverence for learning. In the 11th century the city was conquered by the Cholas, who held it until their overthrow by the Mussulmans in 1310, after which it fell under the sway of the kings of Vijayanagar. In 1646 it was taken from them by the Mussulmans, who in their turn were ousted by the Mahrattas in 1677. Shortly afterwards the emperor Aurungzeb’s forces retook the place, which remained in Mussulman hands until 1752, when it was captured by Clive.


CONJUGAL RIGHTS, those rights which a husband and wife (Lat. conjux) have to each other’s society. When either party continues to refuse to render these rights to the other, they may be enforced by a suit for the restitution of conjugal rights. In England the jurisdiction which the old ecclesiastical courts exercised to enforce this right was transferred to the divorce court by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857. The procedure is by citation and petition, but, before a petition can be filed, a written demand must be made to the refusing party for cohabitation. Previous to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1884, disobedience to a decree for the restitution of conjugal rights rendered the refusing party liable to attachment and imprisonment. The act of 1884 substituted for attachment, if the wife be the petitioner, an order for periodical payments by the husband to the wife. Failure to comply with a decree for restitution is deemed to be desertion, and a sentence of judicial separation may be pronounced, although the period of two years prescribed by the act of 1857 may not have expired. Conjugal rights cannot be enforced by the act of either party (R. v. Jackson, 1891, 1 Q.B. 671), the proper procedure being to apply to the court for relief.


CONJUNCTION (from Lat. conjungere, to join together), a general term signifying the act or state of being joined together. It is used technically in astronomy and grammar. In astronomy, “conjunction” is the nearest apparent approach of two heavenly bodies which seem to pass each other in their courses—said to be in longitude, right ascension, &c., when they have the same longitude, &c. A superior conjunction is one in which the lesser body is beyond the greater, especially when a planet is beyond the sun. An inferior conjunction is one in which a planet is on our side of the sun. In grammar the term “conjunction” is applied to one of the so-called “parts of speech,” viz. those words which are used to “join together” words, clauses or sentences. Conjunctions are variously classified according to their specific function, e.g. adversative (“but,” “though”) which contrast, illative (“therefore”) where the second sentence or clause is an inference from the first, temporal where a time-relation is expressed, and so forth.


CONJURING, the art, sometimes called White or Natural Magic, and long associated with the profession of “magician,” consisting of the performance of tricks and illusions, with or without apparatus. Historically this art has taken many forms, and has been mixed up with the use of what now are regarded as natural though obscure physical phenomena. The employment of purely manual dexterity without mechanical apparatus may be distinguished as legerdemain, prestidigitation or sleight of hand.

Whether or not the book of Exodus makes the earliest historical reference to this form of natural “magic” when it records how the magicians of Egypt imitated certain miracles of Moses “by their enchantments,” it is known that the Egyptian hierophants, as well as the magicians of ancient Greece and Rome, were accustomed to astonish their dupes with optical illusions, visible representations of the divinities and subdivinities passing before the spectators in dark subterranean chambers. The principal optical illusion employed in these effects was the throwing of spectral images upon the smoke of burning incense by means of concave metal mirrors. But according to Hippolytus (Ref. Om. Haer. iv. 35), the desired effect was often produced in a simpler way, by causing the dupe to look into a cellar through a basin of water with a glass bottom standing under a sky-blue ceiling, or by figures on a dark wall drawn in inflammable material and suddenly ignited. The flashes of lightning and the rolling thunders which sometimes accompanied these manifestations were easy tricks, now familiar to everybody as the ignition of lycopodium and the shaking of a sheet of metal. The ancient methods described by Hippolytus (iv. 32) were very similar.

Judging from the accounts which history has handed down to us, the marvels performed by the thaumaturgists of antiquity were very skilfully produced, and must have required a considerable practical knowledge of the art. The Romans were in the habit of giving conjuring exhibitions, the most favourite feat being that of the “cups and balls,” the performers of which were called acetabularii, and the cups themselves acetabula. The balls used, however, instead of being the convenient light cork ones employed by modern conjurors, were simply round white pebbles which must have added greatly to the difficulty of performing the trick. The art survived the barbarism and ignorance of the middle ages; and the earliest professors of the modern school were Italians such as Jonas, Androletti and Antonio Carlotti. But towards the close of Elizabeth’s reign conjurors were classed with “ruffians, blasphemers, thieves, vagabonds, Jews, Turks, heretics, pagans and sorcerers.”

The history of conjuring by mechanical effects and inventions is full of curious detail. Spectral pictures or reflections of moving objects, similar to those of the camera or magic lantern, were described in the 14th and 16th centuries. Thus, in the House of Fame, bk. iii., Chaucer speaks of “appearances such as the subtil tregetours perform at feasts”—pictorial representations of hunting, falconry and knights jousting, with the persons and objects instantaneously disappearing; exhibitions of the same kind are mentioned by Sir John Mandeville, as seen by him at the court of “the Great Chan” in Asia; and in the middle of the 16th century Benvenuto Cellini saw phantasmagoric spectres projected upon smoke at a nocturnal exhibition in the Colosseum at Rome. The existence of a camera obscura at this latter date