Nasrullah Sangi Zadah

Afghanistan proud tradition of kite flying Sign In or Register to add photos

Kite flying is more than a pastime in Afghanistan -- it is a national obsession. The streets of the capital, Kabul, are filled with shops selling kite-flying equipment, and the skies above the city are decorated each day with hundreds of colorful kites fluttering in the wind. Banned by the Taliban as un-Islamic, kite flying has now hit new heights of popularity in the country. Afghans have elevated kite flying -- or "gudiparan bazi" -- to an art form, and one of its chief attractions is kite fighting. "During the Taliban, kite flying was not allowed. If you flew a kite, (the Taliban) would beat you and would break the spool and tear the kite up. Even if you had a pigeon in your hand, or any other birds, they would beat you and make it go free." In Afghanistan, wherever you find kites, you will find kite fighting. During the fight, or "jang," two kites are flown close to one another, often to great heights. The object is then to use the wire of your kite to cut the wire of your opponent's kite to set it free and away. Afghan kite fighting often depends on the quality of the wire, or string, and how it is prepared. First, glass is finely ground and combined with an adhesive to make a thick paste. The wire is then coated with this paste to make it strong and sharp. After drying, the wire is wound around the spool. Kite fighters often wrap a piece of leather around their fingers to protect themselves from the taut wire, which can easily cut to the bone. When an opponent's kite is cut free, it flutters away into the far reaches of the city. Such kites are said to be "azadi rawest," or "free and legal," and can be retrieved by neighborhood children to fly another day. Each neighborhood also crowns its own "sharti," or kite-fighting champion. Winter is one of the most popular times for kite flying in Afghanistan. The winds are strong, and schools are closed because of the cold weather.
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