Kites have always been an integral part of a child’s life, just dea with it. Be it a small or a big one, it’s always fun to see children running carelessly, trying to launch their kites with the wind on their faces. At least, that is how we feel about kites. if you share the same feeling, then Bali is one of the places to go. We have so many kite festivals throughout the year, with one of them being the Mekorot Kite Festival.
The Mekorot Kite Festival is a rather small kite competition for the community. Organized in Kaliasem Beach Buleleng, the winner of the annual festival is anyone who managed to cut the most of their opponents’ kite ropes. As much as it is fun, the main purpose of the festival is to preserve Bali’s long-lived culture.
According to Kadisbudpar Buleleng, Gede Suyasa, the “Culture of snitching kites or` mekorot` in Balinese is a traditional Buleleng culture that must be preserved by all means.“ He further explained that the Department has so much appreciation regarding the event, adding that it is not only a dedicated arena of culture and heritage preservation, but also acts as a promotion and marketing tools for the regency’s tourism sector.
“In a way, this kind of event can help promote Buleleng tourism, especially with so many foreign tourists visiting Lovina,” he said. Furthermore, the former head of Bappeda Buleleng mentioned that having several festivals being held had been proven to indirectly improve the quality of tourism in Buleleng. “Increasing the quality of tourism has become the government’s main concern in a concerted effort to increase the quantity of tourist visit in ` Bumi Panji Sakti`, ” he said, and added that the festival can boost the tourism in the area.
On a different note, the former Vice Regent of Buleleng, Nyoman Sutjidra had explained the culture of “Mekorot” or kite fighting is a form of character from the Buleleng society that is dynamic and full of struggle.
In addition, he later added, it is expected that similar festivals can be held regularly every year, following the succesful first few years of the festival. “We expect [the festival to be] continued in the coming years as a regular festival from Northern Bali,” he said.
Speaking of kite fighting, what exactly is a kite? Well, a kite is a tethered heavier-than-air craft with wing surfaces that react against the air to create lift and drag. It consists of wings, tethers and anchors. Kites often have a bridle and tail to guide the face of the kite so the wind can lift it. Some kite designs don’t need a bridle; box kites can have a single attachment point. A kite may have fixed or moving anchors that can balance the kite. One technical definition is that a kite is “a collection of tether-coupled wing sets“. The name derives from its resemblance to a hovering bird.
The lift that sustains the kite in flight is generated when air moves around the kite’s surface, producing low pressure above and high pressure below the wings. The interaction with the wind also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind. The resultant force vector from the lift and drag force components is opposed by the tension of one or more of the lines or tethers to which the kite is attached. The anchor point of the kite line may be static or moving (e.g., the towing of a kite by a running person, boat, free-falling anchors as in paragliders and fugitive parakites or vehicle). The same principles of fluid flow apply in liquids, so kites can be used in underwater currents, but there are no everyday uses as yet.
Man-lifting kites were made for reconnaissance, entertainment and during development of the first practical aircraft, the biplane.
Kites have a long and varied history and many different types are flown individually and at festivals worldwide. Kites may be flown for recreation, art or other practical uses. Sport kites can be flown in aerial ballet, sometimes as part of a competition. Power kites are multi-line steerable kites designed to generate large forces which can be used to power activities such as kite surfing, kite landboarding, kite fishing, kite buggying and snow kiting.
Kites were invented in Asia, though their exact origin can only be speculated. The oldest depiction of a kite is from a mesolithic period cave painting in Muna island, southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, which has been dated from 9500–9000 years B.C. It depicts a type of kite called kaghati, which are still used by modern Muna people. The kite is made from kolope (forest tuber) leaf for the mainsail, bamboo skin as the frame, and twisted forest pineapple fiber as rope, though modern kites use string.
In China, the kite has been claimed as the invention of the 5th-century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi (also Mo Di, or Mo Ti) and Lu Ban (also Gongshu Ban, or Kungshu Phan). Materials ideal for kite building were readily available including silk fabric for sail material; fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line; and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework. By 549 AD paper kites were certainly being flown, as it was recorded that in that year a paper kite was used as a message for a rescue mission.
Ancient and medieval Chinese sources describe kites being used for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, signaling, and communication for military operations. The earliest known Chinese kites were flat (not bowed) and often rectangular. Later, tailless kites incorporated a stabilizing bowline. Kites were decorated with mythological motifs and legendary figures; some were fitted with strings and whistles to make musical sounds while flying.
After its introduction into India, the kite further evolved into the fighter kite, known as the patang in India, where thousands are flown every year on festivals such as Makar Sankranti.
Kites were known throughout Polynesia, as far as New Zealand, with the assumption being that the knowledge diffused from China along with the people. Anthropomorphic kites made from cloth and wood were used in religious ceremonies to send prayers to the gods. Polynesian kite traditions are used by anthropologists to get an idea of early “primitive” Asian traditions that are believed to have at one time existed in Asia.
Kites were late to arrive in Europe, although windsock-like banners were known and used by the Romans. Stories of kites were first brought to Europe by Marco Polo towards the end of the 13th century, and kites were brought back by sailors from Japan and Malaysia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Konrad Kyeser described dragon kites in Bellifortis about 1400 AD. Although kites were initially regarded as mere curiosities, by the 18th and 19th centuries they were being used as vehicles for scientific research.
In 1752 Benjamin Franklin published an account of a kite experiment to prove that lightning was caused by electricity.
Kites were also instrumental in the research of the Wright brothers, and others, as they developed the first airplane in the late 1800s. Several different designs of man-lifting kites were developed. The period from 1860 to about 1910 became the European “golden age of kiting”.
In the 20th century many new kite designs were developed. These included Eddy’s tailless diamond, the tetrahedral kite, the Rogallo wing, the sled kite, the parafoil, and power kites. Kites were used for scientific purposes, especially in meteorology, aeronautics, wireless communications and photography. The Rogallo wing was adapted for stunt kites and hang gliding and the parafoil was adapted for parachuting and paragliding.
The rapid development of mechanically powered aircraft diminished interest in kites. World War II saw a limited use of kites for military purposes (survival radio, Focke Achgelis Fa 330, military radio antenna kites).
Kites are now mostly used for recreation. Lightweight synthetic materials (ripstop nylon, plastic film, carbon fiber tube and rod) are used for kite making. Synthetic rope and cord (nylon, polyethylene, kevlar and dyneema) are used as bridle and kite line.
Kite flying is popular in many Asian countries, where it often takes the form of “kite fighting”, in which participants try to snag each other’s kites or cut other kites down. Fighter kites are usually small, flattened diamond-shaped kites made of paper and bamboo. Tails are not used on fighter kites so that agility and maneuverability are not compromised.
In Indonesia, kites are flown as both sport and recreation. One of the most popular kite variants is from Bali. Balinese kites are unique and they have different designs and forms; birds, butterflies, dragons, ships, etc. In Vietnam, kites are flown without tails. Instead small flutes are attached allowing the wind to “hum” a musical tune. There are other forms of sound-making kites. In Bali, large bows are attached to the front of the kites to make a deep throbbing vibration, and in Malaysia, a row of gourds with sound-slots are used to create a whistle as the kite flies. Malaysia is also home to the Kite Museum in Malacca.
Now, we are aware of the condition we are in today, but if you find yourself as a kite enthusiast, we highly recommend going to a kite festival and see the giant kites launched to the air by groups of people. Of course, please hold your plans until further notice from the WHO. It will be fun, for sure. We promise. Until then, stay safe and stay sane.