11 July 2024

Kite masters of Thailand’s south set out to interest a new generation in the art of kite flying

Not so many years ago, the winds heralding the arrival of summer would draw the young and the young at heart to wide open spaces to fly their colorful Malay kites. These beautiful kites with their various shapes and patterns flew high in the sky over vast fields and created impressive sounds along the way.

Unfortunately, those sights have become a thing of the past.

Unique design kite at WAU SPACE

In this digital era where social media rule the roost,kite flying is rapidly fading. Increasingly replaced by a more materialistic culture, the happiness, the importance and the benefits of kite flying among family and community members have inevitably been disrupted and are losing their place in society.

Today, there are very few kite masters in the ethnic Malay communities in Thailand’s South though some have retained the kite-flying wisdom, its benefits, and the production of bamboo kites. Kite-flying spaces, which had long fostered community ties, have been shrinking in size as well. Gone are the days of kite-flying fun and the sounds most associate with this once much-loved pastime.

Young people in the three southernmost provinces worry that the culture of kite flying will become extinct. Some types of kites are longer seen and others have been patented by other nations, even though they have traditionally been part of the wisdom of the ethnic Malays in this part of the world.

Senior kite master, Mani, and his creation.

But perhaps not all is lost. In an attempt to boost conservation efforts, a group known as The Living Art is partnering with these young people to organise WAU SPACE, an event that aims to raise public awareness about kite-flying and give a “voice” to kites. It is hoped that this space will encourage an exchange of knowledge between older kite masters and the new generation, and promote networking for further exchanges as well as the conservation and development of Malay kites.

WAU SPACE is being held on Saturday 27 March 2021, the day of the full moon. The date has beenchosen because kite masters say the time is always accompanied by good wind, nice ambience, and happy mood with water nurturing the human body and filling the waterways.

Space where WAU SPACE is held in Pattani

The organisers hope that the event will bring all generations to connect with one another and return to the happy pastime of kite-flying. The kite masters are already old and the event offers a rare chance to pay them respect and recognition. The kite masters also want to pass on their knowledge and skills so that Malay kite flying becomes a sustainable heritage for all generations to come.

The event starts at 9am and continues until 8pm at Benjametha or Thung Dern Din opposite PTT gas station in Pattani. Participants can expect spectacular kites and be wowed by a creative kite flying competition. There are also fun workshops and demonstrations of sharpening the bamboo, tying the kite frame, sticking the paper and designing the kites. Kite masters in the area will also narrate the stories behind the designs. Food will be available and there are also plenty of other fun-filled activities. The event wraps with an outdoor cinema screening films on kite flying and hornbills.

Participants are required to wear face masks at all times and come attired traditional dress including the Lepas cloth.

(All photos courtesy of The Living Art)