Afghan Fighting Kites
I have a penchant for framing and hanging items on our walls that were never designed to be displayed this way, if at all. Most I’ve brought home are from trips around the world, with the most recent from my time in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Kabul, where I was stationed, seemed to me to be a sad, dirty and rough and tumble city. If I closed my eyes and chose a colour to describe it, that colour would be grey. However, one wee spark of colour I saw in this sad world, stands out. It was the many colourful kites I saw flown by the Afghan boys. I think some of them were using the ‘Afghan fighting kites and others had great fun just flying their homemade craft. The sport of kite fighting was an old and popular tradition in Afghanistan until prohibited by the Taliban government (http://fensti.freehostia.com/Engl180/KiteRunner/KiteFighting.html), who considered the activity too ‘frivolous’ for a strict country of Islam. It was hard to stop such an ingrained and popular activity though and certainly when the Taliban were deposed, the sport came back into use and today, you will see the bright kites above cities and villages throughout much of Afghanistan. It is almost as if the young lads find temporary freedom from their war-torn lives, when flying their kites.
Kite fighting is when one tries to cut free another person’s (Boys play this predominantly) kite, using homemade – reinforced with glue paste and ground glass – wire or string. One day whilst walking to somewhere in Camp Phoenix, Kabul, I spot a bit of colour on the dry, dusty ground. A homemade kite! It must have been cut free in flight and fallen on our side of the walls and razor wire. I pick up the sadly battered and torn kite and truck it to my room. The same thing happens the next day with a second kite which is in even worse shape, but I take it to my room as well.
I eventually ship these two ‘true’ Afghan artifacts home, not being exactly sure what I would do with them. Nonetheless, they meant and mean more to me than any of the ‘store or market bought items I also came home with. Eventually, as a result of wonderful work by Don and Deb McCarron of Profiles Photography and Framing, the two kites, awkward in all their dusty and tattered glory, where framed and pronounced suitable for hanging. We have yet to choose a place in our home for them, as the kite display is two-sided and large (I suspect this will be a ‘rafter hanging job’, in our former factory home) but when we do, they will tell a wonderful story to our dinner guests! I only wish the attached photo could convey the emotion these beautiful kites bring out in me, every time I look at them . .. ..
Thanks so much to Deb and Don.