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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

fakir (also, fakeer) From the Arabic word for “poor man,” a fakir is technically a person who begs professionally. Itinerant fakirs in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka often perform conjuring tricks to earn their gifts. On occasion, one may be charismatic and adept enough to become a “god-man” such as Sai Baba.
      Fakirs are better known for their self-mutilation stunts, sitting on beds of nails and otherwise invoking the astonishment and contributions of generous tourists. The bed-of-nails trick depends upon the number of nails per square unit of fakir posterior. Sometimes there are a sufficient number of nails that the area is hardly more than a rough spot and a piece of leather judiciously placed in a loincloth can provide considerable comfort to the performer. Suggestions that the demonstration should begin with only one nail are not looked upon favorably by the fakirs.

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