No Rain Falls, Let’s Go Playing Kites

When the dry season comes and the rain no longer falls in the afternoon, shortly thereafter, kites will be popping up in the sky. There are trapezoid (diamond-shaped) kites, and are also octopus, bat and even human shaped kites. In Magelang, like elsewhere, kites are playthings for children and adult people.

By SAHRUDIN, MagelangImages

There are 2 types of kites here, ie fighting and kites made for attraction purposes. A fighting kite is usually a light trapezoid,  “enlongated diamond” shaped with the lower pair of sides longer than the top pair. The player using an abrasive, sharp line to cut the opponent’s string in the sky.

The second type, kites made for attraction purposes. They are relatively larger and varies in size, made from a variety of synthetic materials, like mylar, aircraft insulation, nylon, and polyester sheeting. The spine may still be bamboo, but often along with the bow is constructed of fiberglass or carbon fiber. A player doesn’t need to fight the line with his opponent.

In fighting kites, a thin cotton or hemp line is coated with a mixture of finely crushed glass and rice glue. In recent years, synthetic line has been coated with a variety of abrasives and stronger glue. Also, there have been some reports of metallic line being used.

The two most common types of cutting are done with abrasive coated line – release cutting or pull cutting. To release cut, once the lines are in contact, both parties start to play out line until one line is cut. In pull cutting, the flier quickly retrieves line until the opponents line is cut. There are several factors in who will win the event, especially the quality of the line, and of course the player’s expertise.

During kites fighting, there will be heard some Javanese terms shouted by the players. Those terms include “ngulukke” (to fly a kite); “pethek” (to help a player to hold his kite); “tarik-ulur” (to pull and to release kite threads); “gelontor” (to release lines or threads quickly); “gebul” (the line is cut by the opponent’s thread), and many more terms.

It needs a spacious place like field and even rice plantation to fly a larger-size kite. In Magelang Municipality, people often to choose the public square in the center of the town to play these kites. Otherwise, to play fighting kites can be done anywhere include in the courtyard or village road. Not surprisingly, some kites caught on electric cables become daily sight in Magelang during the kite-playing season.

One of the best known kites and threads stores in Magelang is a no-name shop on Jalan Kalingga. People often name it “Sablongan”, so when someone says: “I am going to Sablongan”, he or she may going to buy kites and or threads in that shop. Many resellers often to utilize it as a wholesale shop.

Unfortunately, when I tried to ask more about the shop, the owner, a woman about 60 years old age, seemed reluctant to answer my questions. Whereas, I just wanted to ask where do they got those stuffs, how many kites and sharp threads sold in a day, and when the shop was being established. In fact, this shop had been known since I was a child, more than 27 years ago.

But as I remember it, there were words “Made in Cipacing” on the kite’s paper. Cipacing is a village in Sumedang Regency of West Java Province. The village had long been known as the center for manufacturing of air rifles, traditional weapons and even kites. Meanwhile, on the kite lines plastic wrap listed brands like “Cap Kapak“, “Puma“, “Cap Kambing” and many more. The best brand of kite threads, as I remember it, was the “Puma“: it was smooth but sharp line.

But for those who don’t play, chasing a cut kite is a fun thing to do. When a kid succeed to seize a cut kite from other chasers, suddenly it brings his own satisfaction rather than buy a new kite. [magelang.images@yahoo.com]

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