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Kites India – Origine, History, Definition

Kite Flying History IndiaIt flies in hues, tints and shades of rainbow colors in close vicinity of the clouds. It is a scientific and sporting activity, pastime, and canvas for artistic expression. For thousands of years it has graced the skies of many nations of the world. It is a kite; a cultural symbol and global device that affect all strata of society. This word is enough to send any child or teenager into bouts of happiness.

It has always had a special place in the history of India and dates back to the invasions of Monghols who converted to Islam. Therefore, even today it is Muslim community who make them. Commonly known as Patang or Guddi in India, it is generally made of tissue paper and bamboo that makes a center spine and a single bow intersecting the spine. Regardless of their unique color, design and size, almost all Indian kites have similar shape.

Parts of a kite: Irrespective of the variety of natural or synthetic materials used in its construction, parts of a kite are specific. These are: Sail, which is the covering material. Most kites have Bridle. Exceptions are those, which fly by attaching the flying line directly to a fixed point on the kite. Bridle is the set of fixed lines that attach to important points on the frame to hold the kite in a proper flying place. The third part is Frame, which consists of rigid materials. Sail and the bridle together create a frame with the help of wind. The fourth part is Line. This is the flying line to tether them into the wind.

Flight Attitude: This flying device could be as huge as even more than 50 feet in diameter. Tethered to an anchor point that is either static or moving, its flight attitude is, that it should fly in a reasonably steady fashion at an angle of 15 degrees above the tether point for a sustained period. The movement is controlled in the wind direction with threads attached to it in a hand-held pin-roll. It is carried by the wind and kept afloat.

Various theories of its origin and usage: It has a long history, but nothing is definite about the inventor. Most people believe that kites came into India by FHien and Huin, the two Chinese travelers about 2,800 years ago. The kite is almost certainly born in China, where the building materials were readily available, but it is as difficult to find its date of birth as to separate its history and legend.

Stories of kites reached Europe by Marco Polo towards the end of the 13th century. Kites were brought back by sailors from Japan and Malaysia in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, the period from 1860 to about 1910 was the “golden age of kiting” when these were used as vehicles for scientific research. Around 190 BC, some kites served the military action. These had wind-harp, which vibrated the wind and produced sound which terrified the enemy.

Another story discusses the famous Chinese General HanHsin who besieged the palace in 196 B.C. He used a kite to measure the distance between his troops and the palace walls, post which he built a tunnel and was able to invade the palace.

According to the legend put forth by the local museum in Gujarat, in 200 BC Huin flew a kite at night to intimidate the army of the Han dynasty. From 100 BC to AD 500 kites were used for sending signals and to measure the instance of enemy camps. In 1939 the U.S. Air Force and Navy equipped pilots with ‘Gibson Girl’ that personified feminine ideal to rescue signal kite kits. These systems were also used by the Australian and British Air Forces later, in World War 11. The Russian Air Force developed a very similar rescue kit. The kite rescue kits were used through the Korean War in the 1950′s.

It was between AD 960 and 1126 that kite flying became a polar sport in China. The Chinese used kites for psychological warfare too. In this procedure the kites were used to drop leaflet into a compound that held prisoners. It incited a riot that led to their escape.

As regards Indian literature, kites were mentioned for the first time in Madhumati by Manzan. They were called Patang. Here, the flight of a kite is associated with the loved one by a poet. Marathi poets Eknath and Tukaram also described kites in their verses where the word ‘vavdi’ has been used. In the book, The Complete World of Kites, Bill Thomas depicts that the kite played a vital role in an early territory battle between Hindus and Muslims. The Scottish meteorologist Dr. Alexander Wilson and Thomas Melville used kites to lift thermometers to a height of 3000 feet to measure temperature variation at altitude.

Whatever the theories of its origin, it is the wind that deserves the credit for this discovery. The legend has it that the hat of a Chinese farmer blown by the wind helped create the first kite.The fact and the surprise are how a seemingly simple kite could have been used in ways that we can hardly ever imagine!

Article by Bindu Saxena  – Your comments and feedback are welcome at

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