The kites of Afghanistan

Cultural Insights — By on March 1, 2007 at 11:36 am

There is a fun little article in Time Magazine about the sport of kite flying and the art of kite making in Afghanistan, where kites are something of a national passion.

As anyone who has read the best-selling novel The Kite Runner knows, springtime in Kabul is heralded by flocks of dipping, looping and diving kites. But these aren’t the kites of lazy weekend picnics. They are finely tuned flying machines sensitive to the slightest tug of a master’s hand. …

One of the more capricious moves of the Taliban regime, along with the banning of music and the requirement that all men grow beards, was a total prohibition of kite flying. In the first heady days after the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, men shaved, music blasted on car stereos and kites took to the air. For Noor Agha, Kabul’s best kite maker, business has been soaring ever since. …

Agha’s factory is his living room, where he has put his two wives and 11 children to work, cutting, shaping and gluing the intricate tissue-paper mosaics that make his kites stand out for their beauty and superior handling.

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