Sword swallowing

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Sword swallowing is an ancient performance art in which the performer passes a sword through the mouth and down the esophagus towards the stomach. This feat is obviously not swallowing in the traditional sense; the natural processes that constitute swallowing do not take place, but are repressed in order to keep the passage from the mouth to the stomach open for the sword.

The practice is extremely dangerous, posing a high risk of injury.

Most of today's practicing sword swallowers, approximately one hundred in number, belong to the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI).


Originating in India before 2000 BC, the deadly art of sword swallowing has a long and varied history. During its early history it was used as a demonstration of divine union and power.

The migration of the art to other lands, most notably China in the 8th century, saw its transformation from divine demonstration to theatrical production. It quickly migrated to Japan, where it became a central part of the Japanese acrobatic theatre, Sangaku. This form of theatre featured an array of performance delights, including fire eating, tightrope walking, juggling and early illusion.

Simultaneous to the arts' eastern migration was a migration to the north and west, all the way to Greece and Rome in the 1st centuries AD. In Europe it developed into yet a third distinct type of performance associated with the medieval jongleurs, that of the street performance.

Sword swallowing was performed during the......
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