On June 23, 1947, Time Magazine reported from Switzerland on what it called the “Miracle Man” – a mysterious 35-year old Dutchman by the name of Mirin Dajo who confounded onlooking scientists, doctors and ordinary spectators when, apparently without any pain or internal injury, he was skewered straight through the chest with a 28-inch fencing foil. The skin on his torso appeared to bulge as the solid steel blade was pushed through by an assistant, but Dajo stayed stoic, unflinching. During the 40s, this living enigma was run through with sharp objects like spears and swords without suffering physical damage or even bleeding.
Experts then and now seem to agree this was no illusion, but a real sword going through a real body. Dajo maintained that the areas through which the weapons went became ‘lighter’, ‘less physical’ – that there was nothing solid to injure – but a recent BBC TV programme disputes this account. According to magician and Dajo authority, Ali Bongo, Dajo travelled to India and talked to Fakirs – mystics known for piercing their cheeks and skin with knives. There he may have learned a safe way to pass a blade through his body – but how?
According to Dr Jennifer Saw, even such an extreme feat might be biologically possible aided by what are called fistulas, probably the simplest example of which is an ear ring hole: “It’s quite likely that he had perhaps a few centimetres done at a time, the hole that was created was kept open, and then they advanced it again a little bit at a time staying clear of any organs.” So Dajo had tubes made from scar tissue running through his body that allowed thin objects to be inserted through them. “If you looked at his back he had several holes on them, and I think those were failed fistulas – ones where they couldn’t advance any further,” says Saw.