“The first magician to win a state competition was the famous magician K’ang-ming (K’ang-ming T’ai-ch’un), who became known as the ‘Chinese King’ [K’ang-mích], who traveled a great deal in the 19th century. T’ai-ch’un was born in the late 16th century in the Ch’ing dynasty. He was born in the mountains of the Qing dynasty, where there were no roads. Because the roads there were not so good and roads were not so extensive, there was no money to buy things and he would sometimes sell things on the streets for a dollar and sometimes for 1st class. He learned magic during this time. He learned several kinds of spells, such as the Shih’au (Breath of Fire), T’ai-ch’un learned a magic trick where there is a glass jar in the air and you can throw a stick into it which will send out a ball of fire. In order to practice, you would have to do this twice, the first time with water, and then with fire. Later he became a sorcerer, who was a king, but he was not much of a magician, so he did not do many of these.”
This story is based on the tale called “The first magician in the world,” by Hu Yi-shan, recorded in The Book of History, Volume 5, Chapter 3, written in 1698. Hu’s story is about K’ang-ming T’ai-ch’un, who was at one time a magician who traveled widely throughout China during the Ming (Killing) and Qian (Praising) dynasties.
So why K’ang-ming T’ai-ch’un? K’ang-ming T’ai-ch’un, who is so-and-so, is the first king of the Ch’ing dynasty, and he traveled throughout China, teaching magic, selling items, and living in the great cities (Tang: Shou) of the Tang dynasty. A king, though he may be the first, is not necessarily the first in history. King K’ang-ming is mentioned in the Tang poem, The Song of Grandmasters, and in the Song of Grandmasters of the Five Sovereigns, all of which were written in the later Tang dynasty.
“K’ang-ming T’ai-ch’un,” says the book’s cover,
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