Last up date:2000/05/26
Kite in Bali - 1996

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A kite in Bali from a brochure of Bali International Kite Festival 1996

A kite in Bali is not just a plaything. It is not just fun. Kite flying has a cultural and religious root in the Balinese people life. It found its way to the mythology. Not less than god Siva, one of the main aspects of the supreme God, is supposed to like kite-flying. To be exact His manifestation as "Rare Angon" young cowboy, is regarded as the god of kites. In the religious life, at least in two religious ceremonies, "Layang-Layang or Layangan", the Balinese word for kite, is required and available as an important article. One is in the form of bird skin completed with the feather and the other is a feathered round-cut bananatrunk layer. Of course, these two "kites" cannot fly or are not Expected to fly.

The real Balinese kites, mentioned earlier as not just playthings, normally are huge. In the forms of fish called "Bebean", or oval with pointed wings, curved back-ward, "Pecukan" or "Jaggan", somewhat like "Pecukan" with a head and a very colorful, tail, long and wide. The head is given a mask either that of a bird or a "naga" dragon. These kites need more than just a string to fly on. A religious ceremony goes with it. In the first place before anything is done toward the making of a kite, an advise is sought from the wise men of the village. He will consult the traditional calendar to decide the good day to begin the work. Not many people know about this bussiness. When the good day is chosen, they will start the work to make the skeleton, and offerings are made when the kite is eventually ready. A priest is very often invited to bless it. So that the kites and the people are "selamat", that's safe and sound. A feast is held to complete the procedure. The whole villagers, 50 persons or more, are united to set up a "sekeha" organization. A set of gamelan musical instruments escorts the kite to the field. Also a special shed is built to store the kite in, waiting for the next flying time. Offerings are also made during good days for those kites. Strange it maybe for outsiders to see this fact of life, but it is just like that !!

A special feature of traditional kites is that each of them carry two "guwangan", hummers. Guwangan is a piece of rattan band stretched on a piece of somewhat like a bow made of bamboo or wood. When airborne the band will make a nice humming sound and a number of guwangans create a harmonious music. The sound of those guwangans is one of the criteria of evaluation in a competition.

Apart from the "bebean", "pecukan" and "Janggan", classified as traditional kites, there are lot more unusual and 'impossible' forms of kites known as new creations !! They may come in the forms of animals, human, characters in the mythology or means of transportation such as ship, aeroplane, motorbyke and so on.