Last up date:2000/08/03
The Kites of Indonesia
written by David Wagner, "Drachen Foundation Kite News" Volume 6, Issue2, Summer 2000.

The Exhibition Kites & Culture

The exhibition Kite & Culture; The Spirit of Indonesia, will provide the first opportunity for Americans to experience these unique and fascinating kites and the culture that created them. It will also be the first appearance by Indonesian kitemakers in the US. Besides being remarkably slilled artisans, they are among the most friendly and gentle people in the world.

The exhibition will portray Indonesian kites in cultural and artistic reference with the art of the islands. Individual and group expression in visual and performing art and craftsmanship are an integral part of Indonesssian culture. Kites are another medium of expression in this very visually and spiritually aexthetic society.

Indonesia is a gathering of 13,677 islands, over a span of ocean greater than the distance between San Francisco and New York. There are over 200 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. Highly sophiscated city dwellers and artistic communities with cultural and religious traditions well in advance of the West thousands of years ago, live under the same flag as primitive farmers and animist hunters only recently emerged from the stone age.

Evidence now indicates that kites, and therefore man-made flight, evolved independently in the Malay Archipelago. It is clear that a basic sail shape developed hundreds of years ago in Indonesian and Malaysian kites that cannot be traced to an origin in other countries. This wing form occurs in the traditional Balinese jangan and pecukan kites, shown below. These simplified drawings only hint at the structural complexity and refined awareness of flight exhibited by many Indonesian kites, often on an impressive scale. The wingspan of these kites typically exceeds 12 feet.

The kites being produced today by Indonesian kitemakers, often working in isolation, reflect the great depth of art and craftsmanship that characterize artwork in this island nation. The traditional kites of Bali, and the festivals created around them, are unrivalled in ritual and ceremonial significance. Many of the kites built throughout the islands reflect the various religious, traditional, and centemporary influences within this huge developing nation, and show great creativity and mastery of combinations of old and new materials and techniques.

The Indonesian kitemakers will be flying these magnificent kites on the beach at the Long Beach International Kite Festival in August. The exhibition will travel to a number of cities in the cominb year, so don't miss this unique opportunity to see it.

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