Hey Folks! Spring arrived ...
March 20, Asia's Spring Solstice. On the lunar calendar, the day when the spring begins.
In Southeast Asia, it is time to change seasons. Dry to rainy north of the equator and vice versa rain to dry south of the equator.
The change of seasons is not abrupt. It is a long process that will end at the beginning of May. A visible symptom of this change are slightly longer days - about 30 minutes and a change in the place where the sun sets. More to the northwest.
The first rain clouds had appeared and, as was the case this morning, the first heavy rain had fallen. The first in four months.
The change of seasons is also an interesting period from a cultural point of view. This is the time when the kite season begins in the countries of Southeast Asia.
Yes. These are the kites we used to play with as kids when it was the end of the school`s holidays.
I don't know about you, but in my hometown Szczecin, there was an annual kite festival.
The preparations took several days and included building my own kite. We gathered in modeling shops, where we received the materials necessary to build a kite. There was also an instructor who helped with more advanced constructions. Everyone built what they could. One flat, diamond-shaped kites. Older colleagues box kites that require a bit more experience and more work. After a few days of working on the kites, we were all taken to the Szczecin airport, where the competition was held. They relied on simple competition - which kite reaches the highest altitude wins. The height was checked by the pilots of the Szczecin Aeroclub. The whole is decorated with music and a meal of military pea soup. Nice to remember ...
Living in Asia, I experience situations in which kites are everyday attractions for whole families. It is now, with the changing of seasons, that children and adults go to places where the winds are stable to fly kites.
While on the coast, on the beach, it is actually very simple and you can fly kites all year round, in a city such as Sai Gon, it unfortunately requires some organizational effort.
First, you need to find a place where you can launch the kite. It must be empty, relatively spacious and the air flow should be unimpeded.
There is such a space in front of my house. While drinking my afternoon coffee, I watched as every weekend hundreds of people gathered, who come here with their whole families for a picnic, sitting at small tables prepared by the owners of street bars. In addition, sellers of juices, ice cream and fruit come in.
For two days a week, from 4 to 6 p.m. there is a kite festival and a family picnic.
I was also influenced by this atmosphere. So I bought my kite and went to a nearby square.
The number of kites, their colors and the variety of shapes are huge. I couldn't count how many different patterns there are. You can buy a kite on the spot - 100,000 for a medium-sized to 200,000 for a large polyester kite. Plus 20,000 for a line on a spool. Prices in Vietnamese Dong. This place where people meet to "fly" is actually occupied by a multitude of sellers. They offer good quality kites. From small, resembling dragonflies or birds, to large box kites and kites that resemble an air mattress with its structure.
Upon arrival, find a way to fit the hundreds of lines that keep the kites tethered. This is not easy. I didn't make it the first time. We tangled the kites with other flyers. Later it only got better.
The impression of this place is amazing. You see entire families sitting, eating and drinking at tables. Picnic! At the same time, one of the people tethers the kite, steers it and monitors the altitude. The fun is amazing. It is such a return to the childhood years.
The tradition of playing with kites is common all over Asia.
Whether in China or Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, the Philippines or India, flying kites everywhere is a common fun for whole families.
It intensifies especially during the weekend, mainly on the beaches, but as you can see, also in a large city like Sai Gon, there is a place for such fun.
You will probably ask about the history of this tradition.
Well, the first mentions of kites as an element of sending emergency messages date back to the ninth century BC. It's quite a long time ago, isn't it?
It is also difficult to clearly define when and where they were used for the first time. The first kites are no less said in the context of Indonesia. About 2000 B.C. records of kites in China appear. Probably from here kites were popularized all over the world. In Central and Eastern Asia, but also in Japan and Korea, kites spread from Indonesia. Everywhere here you will meet crowds of people flying kites for fun in places with good weather conditions.
Historical, kites were constructed from natural raw materials such as bamboo, banana leaves or other plants. The leaves, which were decomposed into fibers, were the basic material for the ropes holding the kites. The commercially available silk was the first material to be used to build the bearing surfaces of kites. After inventing and spreading paper, it took over the top position among construction materials for years.
Modern kites are mainly made of polyester, reinforced enough to withstand many years of exposure to air flow.
Kites remind of their long history in old drawings or woodcuts discovered in Indonesia but also in China.
The history of kites in individual countries also has a strong relationship with the culture of these countries.
Let see what it looked like in Asia.
By definition, a kite is "a tethered ship heavier than air or lighter than air with wing surfaces which respond to the air by creating lift and pull forces."
The kite consists of wings, often with a tail on the tip, and a line that guides the front of the kite so that the wind can lift it. Box kites may have one line attachment point. Rhombic kites generally have a bridle that connects 3 corners and can be adjusted.
Traditional Asian kites can be a work of art by themselves like a Chinese dragon, or the surface of the kite is used as an artist's easel. For example, the great Japanese Rokkakus with cruel faces. In between, there are hundreds if not thousands of other designs that feature intricate or simply beautiful graphics on the surface of the kite. For example, Wau Bulan from Malaysia is a beautifully decorated kite that is reflected in many pieces of applied arts and icon-graphics.
Some Asian cultures have focused more on "kite combat" which are built with flying performance in mind. These include kites from India and Korea. Japan could also be included, although the emphasis on fighting kites is less there.
We'll start with China.
In very ancient times, kites were viewed as a military technology, as were balloons and airplanes. They were used to recognize the enemy in the second millennium (1000 AD - 2000 AD), having observers in the air under (or on) large kites.
Over the centuries, kite-flying in China has become a national pastime. The most popular were kites created in configurations with soft, stiff wings and long tails.
The designs were dominated by intricate and colorful graphics.
The best and most expensive Chinese kites were made of split bamboo and silk. To this day, replicas of old, traditional designs are produced and shipped worldwide.
The Edo era is often mentioned, where Japanese kites are mentioned. During this time, starting in the 18th century, various regions of the country developed and became famous for the kite designs characteristic of that region.
A good kite is one that has flown tailless for stability. It required accuracy, symmetry and low weight of the structure. This is the "Edo kite".
"Edo" can also refer to the first local kite design in Japan, a simple rectangular mesh made of paper-covered bamboo strips. This frame was curved in a way that kept the kite stable in the air. Just like in modern kites.
Old Japanese kites often depict scenes, characters, or just the faces of human figures.
A nation of kite warriors! Like the first Japanese design, Korea's most famous kites are also rectangular. But that's where the similarity ends, as these designs intersect with diagonal bars and a large circular opening in the center.
Two types predominate according to shape, rectangular with holes and rhombus.
Bangpae yeon - these are the most popular rectangular kites that are used for recreational flying or for sale to tourists. Depending on the weather conditions, they sometimes fly with a straight rectangular tail looped from one bottom corner of the kite to the other.
Pangp'aeyon - shield kites are more durable and can be used for kite fights. Last one in the air wins when you try to cut all of your competitors' links with your own!
Gaori-Yon - is a traditional diamond-shaped kite.
Indian Patang - comes in several varieties, including some fairly small kites. There are other types too, but there is one noticeable trait in common. A curved horizontal spar intersects the vertical treebeard fairly close to the fore end of the kite before extending downward to the side wing horns. Other Indian kites have rectangular wing areas in various configurations.
The common ancestry of some Asian kites is seen in the use of pointed wingtips (Thailand, Viet Nam and Malaysia). Nevertheless, there are country-specific characteristics.
Chula - is considered the "king of kites", is large, with pointed wing tips and a bird's tail.
Pakpao - is considered the "kite queen" and looks like a medium-sized diamond kite.
Like western diamonds, a kite often flies with a long, thin tail.
We have a kite culture here that goes back around 1000 AD!
A unique place on the map of Viet Nam is the village of Ba Duong in the Dan Phuong district, near Ha Noi.
The production and flying of kites has been going on here - almost continuously - for over 1000 years.
The characteristic design also remained unchanged. Elegant design of the flying wing, which, despite its simple appearance, requires a lot of skill and finesse to make it. The frames use split bamboo and the covers are paper.
Elsewhere in the country, the pointed-tip wing style remains, but there is a wide variety of tail sections and paddle-like tail designs.
Bamboo flutes, which make soft sounds in the air stream over the top of the kite, are an integral part of a traditional Vietnamese kite. This feature, or the tight strings that vibrate to make a sound, are sometimes seen on other Asian models as well.
The most famous project is Wau Bulan or "Moon Kite". Like most Thai and Vietnamese kites, it has pointed wing tips.
The tail portion is crescent shaped and elaborate fringes are often brought out at the wing and / or tail tips. You can find many architectural constructions or arts across the Malaysia, inspired byt the kite design.
If you fly kites in Indonesia, you only go to Bali. Children and adults alike have been making simple kites on this tropical island for a long time. But in recent decades the place has become known for creating realistic, colorful "creature" kites and selling them to tourists.
Traditional Balinese kites also include very large paired kites that are flown with incredibly long tails.
There are many traditional kite festivals, although people no longer have the time to fly these Asian kites for weeks or months like in the old days!
Today, fun with kites accumulates on weekends, non-working days and when the weather conditions are favorable.
But no matter what the times, it is still a family pleasure to enjoy a kite soaring high above your head, especially when accompanied by dozens of others.
I came back from "flying" relaxed, flushed and determined to continue the fun every weekend. As long as we have great conditions in Sai Gon.
Youth! Give me wings!
Or a kite ...
Let me fly over the dead world.
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