Vietnam's thousand-year-old kite-making village

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 - 11:24:35

(VOVworld) – Hello and welcome to VOV’s Sunday Show, our biggest show of the week, featuring Vietnam’s traditional culture and beautiful landscapes. I’m Le Chi, your host for today’s show.

In today’s show we will talk about a thousand-year-old kite-making village, Ba Duong Noi village, in Hong Ha commune, Dan Phuong district, Hanoi. For local people there, flying kites is a long-standing cultural value. The people have considered kite making and flying the pride of local culture for a thousand years. Generation after generation of villagers have maintained and preserved this feature of their homeland’s traditional culture.


Every day, people see thousands of kites soaring in the blue sky over the crowded residential area in northwest Hanoi.

That is Ba Duong Noi, a village long known for its beautifully crafted kites made in the shapes of crescent moons or boats and attached to wooden flutes that play soft melodies as the wind passes through them. Dating back to the Dinh dynasty in the 10th century, the village has a reputation as one of Vietnam’s kite flying centers. Nguyễn Hữu Kiêm, President of Hong Ha Kite Club in Dan Phuong says the village’s kite tradition is very old. “The elderly say once upon a time when heaven and earth were close, heaven’s fairies often came down to attend earth’s festivals. But one day, the heaven rose higher and higher. The fairies couldn’t come down. People on earth made kites as a way to restore contact with the heaven. People attached bamboo flutes to the kites to call the fairies to the earth’s festivals.”

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Ba Duong Noi villagers hold a kite festival on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month every year.
The sound of flute kites reminds people of Vietnam’s countryside with its spacious rice paddies and little boys lulled to sleep while tending their buffalos by the lilting sound of flute kites in a clear sky. Kites have become part of the culture of Vietnam’s countryside.

Kites are not only a fun activity, they are also a way for villagers to send their prayers for good weather and abundant crops into the sky. The kite is a symbol of yin and yang, connecting heaven and earth. The sound of the flutes drives away miasma and epidemics. Kites symbolize good luck and the higher they fly, the better the harvest will be. Kites are also weather forecasters. Nguyen Huu Kiem, President of the Hong Ha Kite Club, says:  “If the kites soar high in the sky and the flute sound loud, people will have good weather and a bumper crop”.

Ba Duong Noi villagers hold a kite festival on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month every year when south wind comes.

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Kites are gathered to prepare for the kite festival in Ba Duong Noi village.

Converting raw materials into a beautiful kite that flies gracefully and strongly requires a complicated technique and an artisan’s skill. Both the kite and the flute are traditionally made of bamboo, a material found throughout Vietnam’s countryside. The kite string is also made of bamboo. Old bamboo is selected for the kite frame, the bamboo is cleaned, dried in the sun then soaked in lime juice for several days to discourage insects. The frame is covered by a special kind of Dó paper. This makes the kite water-proof and light.

To make a good flute, artisans must select the right bamboo. It must be old bamboo that has survived sun and rain, unbroken by extreme heat and wetness. The artisans drill holes in the bamboo. The more precise the holes, the better the sound.

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Flute is made of bamboo.

Kites are the passion of most of the residents of Ba Duong Noi village. Unlike Hue kites, which are colorful and have many elaborate shapes, the shapes of this village’s kites are simple without tails. It is the delicate flute, filled with emotions and feelings that expresses the artisan’s heart. The passion is handed down from generation to generation. Đinh Văn Nam is a member of the Hong Ha Kite Club: “When I was a baby, I saw the elderly making and flying kites. So I love kites. Whenever I see kites in the sky, I recall my fond childhood. I’m proud of the thousand-year-old kite village and happy to have been born in the village.”

Song

We just played a track called “My Homeland” featuring talented singer Tung Duong. The song paints a beautiful picture of Vietnam’s countryside with a mother’s lullaby, green rice paddies, and kites soaring in the blue sky.

You’re listening to VOV’s Sunday Show, the biggest feature of the week where we’re talking about a thousand-year-year kite-making village in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi.

The Hong Ha Kite Club was established in 2004 to create a venue for enthusiasts of kites in the village. Nguyen Huu Kiem is the President of the Club: “Our club was established in 2004. The club was recognized by the Vietnam Folk Arts and Literature Association in 2005. This was the first kite club in the North. We have participated in a lot of domestic and international festivals.”

Every week club members gather to talk about how to make a perfect kite. Nguyễn Văn Quyết is Vice President of the Hong Ha Kite Club:  “Domestic and foreign friends like our kites because they are both traditional and unique. When I fly my kite, I feel very proud. Flying kites relaxes me and teaches me patience and skill.” 

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Hien and Tien are two of hundreds of children in the village who have gotten involved with this folk art. For them making and flying kites is a habit almost from the cradle. Nguyen Thi Thu Hien is from Ba Duong Noi village: “I really like flying kites. I like it more than anything”.

Nguyen Minh Tien is one of the many kite lovers in Ba Duong Noi village: “I intend to take Vietnamese kites to other countries and plan to paint a large picture of Vietnam in which my father is flying a kite”.

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Seeing kites flying in a peaceful sky makes many people feel happy.

This has been the Sunday Show on the Voice of Vietnam. If you have any comments or suggestions about the program, send your letters to: The English Section, Overseas Service, Radio the Voice of Vietnam, 45 Ba Trieu Street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Our email address is englishsection@vov.org.vn. Or you can log onto our website at: www.vovworld.vn to listen to recorded programs. We hope you’ll join us again next time. For now, good-bye!

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Jayanta Chakrabarty - 11/09/2015 21:28

Dear Sir/Madam,

I take this opportunity to send my best wishes and felicitations for VOV's glorious 70th anniversary which was celebrated on the 7th of Sep. I hope VOV will continue to enlighten, educate and entertain its worldwide listeners in the coming years just as it has been doing so in the past.

As a regular listener to your English services I would like to thank you for the wonderful programmes being broadcast. I usually listen to VOV both on the shortwave and live streaming on the internet radio.

Please receive a feedback of prrogrammes which I listened on the internet on 11 Sep 2015.

Date : 11 Sep 2015
Time : 1600-1700 UTC
Mode : live streaming on the internet radio
Quality : Excellent

Some details :

I enjoyed listening to the news and the Sunday Show programme devoted to the traditional culture and and scenic beauty of Vietnam. The topic on kite making tradition of a thousand years in the village of Ba Duong Noi was interesting and very informative. Kite flying is also popular in India and there are many towns which are associated with this sport and cottage industry of kite making. But Ba Duong Noi seems to have a special attraction. The programme reflects one of the unique cultural traditions of this interesting country of Vietnam.

I have a question for VOV Mail Box :
I would like to hear about the traditional marriage customs in Vietnam. Are these still being followed or modern customs have taken over ?

With regards.

Jayanta Chakrabarty
416, Asia House
Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi - 110001
India