KITES THAT DANCE AGAINST THE WIND

COUNTRIES THAT WANT TO KEEP CULTURE OF KITE ARE ORGANIZING TRADITIONAL KITE FESTIVALS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Now close your eyes and remember your best childhood memories. You are freely running in a big green field. You are under the shade of your kite that is gently gliding in the sky with its long rope that extends to the horizon from your hand. You are as free as you have ever been in that colorful world. Yes, we all grow up eventually because we are unable to resist the effects of time. But all the beauties from the past years that brought happiness to our faces and nourished our child spirit are still in there somewhere… Kiting culture is not important just in Turkey, but has an important place in the entire world. From Malaysia to India, from Holland to Poland many countries are passing on the kiting tradition to the next generation.

A tradition born in China
Kites that come in hundreds of types and shapes such as equilateral triangles, hexagons, and rectangles, or fishes, birds, snakes, dragons, butterflies, lamps or other regional shapes, was made first in the 3000s B.C. according to various records. It is an interesting fact that the motherland of the kite is China, and that the Chinese city of Weifeng is famous for being the ‘capital of kites’.

It is stated that the kite, which was born in China and quickly spread within the Far East, was taken to Holland by the famous explorer Marco Polo after purchasing one from the Malayin Isles, leading to the Europeans’ acquaintance with the kite. After the kite reached Europe, it went through a serious transformation there, and was turned into performance kites that can drew shapes into the sky that are used with double or quad strings. In time, the kite was starting to be used in activities that were far beyond enjoyment activities. Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of the electrical composition of lightning bolts thanks to a kite in 1572 is one of the most successful examples of this topic… Again, during 1884, we see that Guglielmo Marconi’s radio broadcast that was made from one coast of the Atlantic Ocean to the other had used kites to increase the height of the antennas. We also see that the kite is one of the oldest regional enjoyment activities in the Far East in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

A communication vessel during wars
There are also cases in which the iconic meaning of flying a kite is used in a different meaning. For example, during wars, kites were also used for communicating, scaring the enemy, and making a show of strength. Villagers used to fly kites during harvest seasons in hopes of getting leisure and abundance. Also, some rumors suggests that kites used to be used to chase away dark souls from new born babies or to catch giant fish from the air while sitting by the coast.

The most famous kiting festivals
Today’s most famous kite festivals take place in Malaysia, India, China, Holland, and Poland. Kite culture, which now has clubs, societies, and federations in many countries and even has museums, has not yet reached the status it deserves in Turkey. Up until 1984, small organizations tried bringing it into the agenda yet all attempts had failed because of modern day life and irregular urbanization.

The techniques in Turkey
Kiting techniques gained a new extent with Turkey’s first kiting competition, which opened a new era in Turkish kiting and had a monetary and trophy award that was organized by Mehmet Naci Aköz in 1984. One of the prominent kite organizations in 1987, British Columbia Kite Fliers, registered Mehmet Naci Aköz as Eyüp Kardeş to the association and announced this to the other country members with the bulletin they published. In the following years, the interest in kiting started to increase and the Eyüp Kardeş Kiteflyers Union was founded in 1986 under Mehmet Naci Aköz’s presidency. This union became Turkey’s first kite establishment, and became an association in 1997 and took the name Eyüp Kardeş Kiteflyers Association.

Turkey’s first kite museum
Üsküdar Municipality Mehmet Naci Aköz Kite Museum draws attention as the first kite museum of Turkey. The museum is open to visitors during the weekdays and on Saturdays between 09:00-17:00. Attending workshops requires appointments from the museum. You can attend as a group or as an individual. While touring the Kite Museum, you also have the chance to make your own kite. The museum hosts a private collection that consists of more than 2 thousand kites that belong to 26 countries. Different materials and traditional kites of countries such as Germany, Holland, France, Britain, Denmark, Luxemburg, and Malaysia are displayed. On the shelves that host domestic kites, you can find colorful kites, kite catalogs, periodicals, posters of kite organizations from different countries and plenty of different objects.

Hexagon shaped Kites
Let’s quickly remind that every country has a distinctive kite type. Our traditional kite shape is a hexagon… The hexagonal kite is not just Turkey’s traditional kite but also the kite of all countries that have a coast in Mediterranean and the kite of many South American countries. For example, kites made in Syria have more tassels while ones made in Portuguese have more than one long and thin tails. Let’s remind some of the kite activities organized in different spots in Turkey for the kiting enthusiasts: Bozcaada Kite Festival, Alaçatı Kite Festival, Afyon Karahisar Municipality Kite Festival, Milas Kite Festival, and Ergani Kite Festival.

Check from which direction the wind is coming from
To learn if the weather is appropriate for flying a kite, check local weather news report. If you are new to kite flying in windy weather, you should wait for the wind to quiet down. The ideal wind speed for kite flying is 5-10 mph. If there is someone accompanying you, flying the kite will be much easier. Hold the kite’s string in your hand and give the kite to the person with you. The person holding the kite is to turn their back towards the direction the wind is blowing and turn the face of the kite towards their face. If the wind is coming directly from the back of the kite, your kite will fall.  Start opening the string on the kite’s pulley until its about 20 meters long. The person holding the kite is to move away from you as the string lengthens. Be sure to check the area where you will fly your kite. There should be no obstacles or anything that your kite’s string may be tangled in. After it goes far enough, the person holding the kite should wait to catch the wind and then release the kite. If the wind’s direction changes, then the two of you are to change your angle. For this reason you must occasionally check the direction the wind is blowing from. As your kite extends towards the sky, you may loosen your grip on the kite’s string and allow it to rise even higher into the sky.