Balinese Kite: The Harmony of Entertainment and Culture
Bali is really famous because of its unique culture, from the temple, ceremony, and the way Balinese live their life. Kite is one of our unique cultures, I’m pretty sure everyone has seen a kite in many places. However, the Balinese kite is different from another kite in the world.
As a Balinese, my childhood is filled with playing kite when windy season coming. We make our own kite in a traditional way with bamboo and use either plastic or fabric to close the hole on the frame.
Type of Balinese Kite
There is various type or shape of Balinese kite, from a normal triangle shape to a big and long shape that I believe only exist in Bali.
This shape is normal and universal all around the world I think, also this is probably the easiest kite to make. I’m not sure in other places, but in Bali with this kite usually we battling each other. How do we do? It is simple, we use a special plastic rope cover with broken glass that already in a dust shape.
In this way, the thread is sharp and could cut other thread or even your finger too 😀 For me, it is easy and fun to battle with other people with the kite. The kite battle called “mekorot” in Balinese, and this is the most common thing that we do with the normal kite. You may see on the video below what exactly “mekorot” is
Bebean (Fish Shape)
Moving on to the shape that only exist in Bali in my opinion, Bebean is a kite with a shape of fish. The construction is also much more complicated with a normal kite. To construct a normal kite, you only need 2 bamboos (1 vertical, 1 horizontal), but if bebean you need 6 or more bamboos.
You also need to take into account the thickness of the bamboo, the length, and the weight as well. If there is a much different on those, the kite would be flying in a weird way i.e. too much to the right or left. To determine whether bebean is good or not, usually, we look at its movement. If its movement goes to left and right continuously then it is a good one.
Moreover, we usually add “guangan” (some kind of fabric tape) to make a sound because of the wind blow it. You might see the guangan on the image above, you will see on the top and in the middle of the kite.
Janggan (Dragon Shape)
Janggan is a dragon shape of kite. It is a dragon shape because it has a really long tail on it, and usually, people put the head of a dragon on the very top so it really looks like a dragon. Unique things about Janggan is it consists of 2 different parts, the body is called “pecukan” and it is a unique and weird shape I would say.
Meanwhile, the tail and head parts have to be added to make the dragon shape. The same as bebean, pecukan or janggan also could use guangan to make a sound on the sky.
There are still many shapes of the kite in Bali, my personal favorite is the bird shape. It is really cool when I see the kite is high up in the sky. When I was young my father always make the bird shape because he likes it too, so I have the same taste because of him 😀
Culture mix with entertainment
The kite becomes one of the unique Balinese cultures and until now we still carry on this culture and have fun. Usually, there are many kite festivals if the kite season already coming. Most likely during the windy season in the middle of the year (from May).
The favorite place for the festival would be on near the beach. If you are interested to see one, usually the organizer put a big banner on the road informing there will be a kite festival.
Moreover, for the festival its not just any kite that we use. As a Balinese, we have a ceremony for almost everything so we do some sort of ceremony for the kite too. Also, like I said above about the janggan (dragon shape) usually for a festival we put a dragon head on the top of the body.
Usually, the head is a wood carving and complete with the hair and every little accessory needed. A day before the festival, the kite and all the crew will do a ceremony in order to pray so on the festival day everything is going well from the kite and all the crew.
As the manifestation of God
In Bali, “Rare Angon” is the name for people that playing kite. However, legend says that Rare Angon is actually God Shiva that turns himself and helps the farmers to fight or clean their land from pests or bugs. Moreover, Rare Angon also means shepherd. During the time waiting for their sheep eating, they are playing with kite on the field.
That is also the reason why the farmers let them playing on their land because they believe that they will clean the land from pests or bugs. Janggan has the shape of a dragon called Besuki Dragon which is the guardian of Mount Agung and Balinese also believes that the dragon covering the earth meanwhile a turtle called Bedawang Nala is holding the earth from the bottom.
Having said that, kite in Bali is an important culture to protect. It is not limited to only kids, but really universal and everyone can play. Kite festival is not only showing kite but also gamelan as part of it. most of the team will bring their own gamelan team to boost the team spirit.