Teller -- of Penn and Teller! -- has a review of a new book on the fabulous history of the great, fake, "Indian Rope Trick."
The book is called The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick, and it is by Peter Lamont.
You really have to read the whole article to see how widespread this mythology has been. The persistence of the myth is a sign of the deep roots of Orientalism in America's view of the Indian subcontinent.