Let your soul soar - Flying the Hue’s kites

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Water and land-based puppetry appear all over Vietnam but “in-air puppetry”can only be found in Hue. By visiting Hue in summer,you can watch a puppet-show at Ngo Mon Square, the Flag Tower or on the beaches of Hue to experiencethe beauty of Hue’s kites.

Kite flying is one of the most long-standing pastimes in Hue, attracting people of all ages, from childrenand adults to the elderly. The originsof Hue’s tradition with kites isa mystery. It is only known that at first kite flying was a game for children. The game then spread from the countryside to the Court, becoming an elegant game for the aristocracy and court officials in the Nguyen dynasty, and popular to every class in the capital city. From then on, splendid peacock kites and phoenix kites came in to existence, made from different materials to meet the standards of visual and performing arts.

By the reign of Bao Dai King (1926 – 1945), kite flying contests were often organized at Thua Thien prefecture duringannual festivals. Showing up at these festivals were famous artisanssuch as Nguyen Van Ban, Tran Van Dong, DoanChuoc, Ong Hang and Ung Sung. Thesecraftsmen experimented and usednew materials to further innovate and advance the kite as aperforming art. Drawing upon a concept from Northern Vietnam, the Hue craftsmen attached flutes to theirkites.in addition, they used plaid fabric to tetherthe kites instead of the original bamboo string.

From 1935 to 1940, the colorful butterfly kites of Ung Sung made appearancesin Hue.The artists followed in their father’s footstepsand continued to innovate, turning kite flying into an integral pastime of Hue. They gathered into an organization named Cau Phong Association, which is an association to pray for wind; and which aims at learning, discussing and inventing new kinds of kites, making kite flying an organizational game instead of an individual activity.

The artists followed in their father’s footsteps and continued to innovate, turning kite flying into an integral pastime of Hue

After a period of time, the association decided to not only pray for wind but to show will and talent. Therefore, they changed the association’s name from Cau Phong (praying for wind) into Thua Phong (riding upon the wind) which existed from 1973 to 1975.

By 1983, the Hue Kite Club was established by mainly original members and kite lovers. After 31 years of development, the club now has hundreds of members with many well-known craftsmen such as Nguyen Van Be, Nguyen Van Ry, Nguyen Van Cu and Nguyen Dang Hoang, who bring fame to Hue’s kites through domestic and international kite festivals.

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In order for kites to fly high and far, craftsmen must be skillful and talented. They have to take many steps such as selecting and sharpening bamboo tosize, then connecting the bamboo sticks to createkites that mimic thebutterfly, dragon, phoenix or frog. When the bamboo frame is completed, fabric is stretched on, glued and painted.After tying on string the kite can be flown. Each kite is an artwork, a combination of art, architecture, aerodynamcis and especially folk history.

Artisans not only let the kites fly high and freely upon the sky, but also deftly control them with strings to create a vibrant and lively display of a theme or story.

Hue’s kites harmonize all kinds of colors and shapes such as butterfly, phoenix, dragon, centipede, frog, horse and airplane. Each kite has its own beauty, form, size and cost. The uniquenessof Hue’s kites is expressed in the themesand performing arts. Artisans not only let the kites fly high and freely upon the sky, but also deftlycontrol them with strings to crete and vibrant and lively display of topicssuch as dragon versus phoenix, double phoenix, Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh (the Mountain Spirit – the Sea Spirit) and phoenix giving birth. These performances turn kite flying into in-air puppetry.

Hue’s kites have boughtfame to Vietnamese kites through domestic and international kite festivals. In 1992, in the French – Vietnamese Cultural Festival, it was the first time Vietnamese artisans were invited to fly kites in France and they immediately drew the attention ofall guests. A French journalist compared the art of Hue’s kite flying with “in-air puppetry”.

Two years later, after success in the 1994 French – Vietnamese Cultural Festival, the International Kitefliers Association officially invited Hue’s artisans to Diepe International Kite Festival in Normandie (France). Two years later, Hue’s kites proudly appeared at Normandie beach in the 9th International Kite Festival. Since then, Hue’s kites keep showing up in America (Canada), Europe (France), Asia (Thailand) and in kite performances and exhibitionsof 9 Asian countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore, North Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

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The Imperial Citadel of Hue was the place of many pastimes such as composing poems, playing bai choi (Central Vietnam’s folk art) or listening to Hue’s songs. Whilst these provide interest to the participants, kite flying brings joy to everyone. Kite flying artisans meet the needs and interest of audiences of thousands. Hue’s kites have existed for over one hundred years and remain a unique cultural feature of Hue.

Further information:

In summer, tourists coming to Hue have achance to admire kites ofall colors and shapes flying in the sky at Ngo Mon Square or behind Phu Van Lau every afternoon. Tourists also can go to the beaches of Hue to see and feel Hue’s culture through this pastime.

You wrote plastic. Do you mean visual arts? mainly original members of what? Thua Phong? no need to write “such as” here because you have listed all 9 countries.

From Internet