Ching Ling Foo was one of the early performers of the Linking Rings in the form we know today. Speculation about the origin of the effect has led to Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East, and dates as far back as the 1st Century. A painting by Giacomo Mantegazza in 1876 shows a harem girl holding a set of rings above her head. In 1988, Japanese magician Masahiro Yanagida performed his miniature linking rings routine, the Ninja Rings, using four rings that were four and a half inches (or 11.43 cm) in diameter. Since then, the Chinese Linking Rings have also become a favorite performance item for close-up magicians. Number and Sizes of Rings A quality set of eight linking rings can be obtained from a supplier of magic props. Most consider 8-inch diameter rings to be the smallest size suited for stage performance, while 12-inch rings are the most common for stage use; 15-inch rings are also available, but rarely seen in use. Larger sizes are often constructed from stainless steel tubing for the best combination of durability and weight. Professionals may wish to have a set of the larger-diameter rings for use on a stage, or a set of rings in the 4-5 inch range for "close-up" use. Many magicians look for rings that make a nice tone when they strike each other.
A 30 page PDF gem with links to demonstrations