The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Rocket kite, made by Pak Timtim
From Denpasar, Bali, AD 1998
A festival winner
Kite flying is extremely popular among men in the Far East, and was probably invented in China. While the first reference to a kite being flown is from China in 196 BC, it is possible that the practice developed independently in Indonesia.
The annual Balinese kite festival in Denpasar is a world-famous event, drawing large crowds from all over South-east Asia. Groups of men fly giant kites in fierce competition. Bull-roarers are attached to the kite to make a noise, and background music is provided by musicians attached to each team. The kites are traditionally 'fish' kites, flown by teams of about fifteen men, leaf-shaped 'pinched' kites, which are more acrobatic, or the most sacred 'dragon' kites.
There is also a fantasy section, which attracts an amazing range of kites in different shapes. These include butterflies, fish, ships and even people in helicopters or riding bicycles! This rocket-shaped kite won the fantasy section at the 1998 festival.
Balinese kites are also flown for religious reasons, in order to protect the rice crop through the symbolic joining of heaven and earth.