Kite making preserves Vietnamese rural souls hinh anh 1Nguyen Huu Kiem and his fellow villagers also make traditional Vietnamese kites known as dieu sao. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) –
When reminiscing about the early years as a child, perhaps many Vietnamese people will remember traditional games as the most beautiful part of their childhood memories. The kite flying could present the best those unforgettable puzzle pieces of them.

Watching his hard work soar and croon in the gentle breeze, Nguyen Huu Kiem knows he has found such happiness thanks to his singing kites.

The kite village

Kiem was born in a small village called Ba Duong Noi in Hong Ha commune that lies on the bank of the Red River on the outskirts of Hanoi. He chairs the commune’s traditional kite club which preserves and promotes the tradition of kite flying and provides the locals a space to learn and exchange about the game.

The village has long been known for its beautifully crafted kites made in the shapes of crescent moons or boats. Attached to the lighter-than-air creations are small flutes that play soft melodies as the wind passes through their wooden bodies.

Kite making preserves Vietnamese rural souls hinh anh 2Nguyen Huu Kiem chairs Hong Ha commune’s traditional kite club. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Kiem’s fondest childhood memories are of racing next to buffalo with the sweet sounds of his kite trailing behind him. "Each kite is imbued with the history and cultural traditions of our village handed down from generation to generation," he said.

Kiem and his fellow villagers also make traditional Vietnamese kites known as "dieu sao". The smallest kites are 2.2m long and have three bamboo flutes mounted on the top. The flutes vary in length and in the notes they produce.

The faster the kite swoops and dips, the more magical the flute’s music becomes, Kiem says.

"The sound is melodious. It has a soul and a rhythm as if it were carrying the artist’s heart," he added.

People who visit the village find the sounds calming and tranquil. Visitors and residents alike find peace of mind easily due to the melodies heard throughout the village, carried on the wind’s gentle currents.

Kite festival: A beautiful tradition of Ba Duong Noi villagers

Kite making preserves Vietnamese rural souls hinh anh 3Nguyen Huu Kiem and his “dieu sao” at an international kite festival. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The practice of the kite goes back almost a thousand years, Kiem said. Legend has it that kite playing was linked to General Nguyen Ca during the reign of King Dinh Tien Hoang (924-979).

After his victory against twelve warlords, he returned to his native village to live a simple life. He worked on farm and taught locals about culture and martial arts. In his spare time, he often played with children and taught them rural games, such as flying a kite.

After Nguyen Ca died, people built a temple dedicated to him while a kite festival has been held in the village since then to pay tribute to him. It is the oldest kite festival in the north of Vietnam.

Every year in the middle of the third lunar month, Ba Duong Noi villagers come together to enter their kites in flying competitions. On the morning, people gather for an incense offering to worship local deities. Competitors lay out their kites in the temple for a traditional rite at noon before bringing them to the field for competition.

The competition usually starts at 2:00pm with three rounds of drumming to pray for wind.

Kites, considered a hobby to many, now plays an important role in the lives of residents in this region. Villagers here used to fly kites in an effort to carry their prayers for warm weather and abundant growing seasons into the sky. The flying crafts were also used to predict the weather.

According to the people of Ba Duong Noi, if a kite flew high, good weather was on the way for people working in the field. Some residents believed kites had the ability to sweep away storms with the flutes’ song.

The kite club

"Over the last few years, the number of people interested in making kites has grown,” Kiem said.

Founded in 2004, Kiem’s kite club now has 25 members ranging from 18-year-olds to one maker who is 88. The members are from all walks of life, and according to Kiem, are more than willing to experiment and be creative in their work.

Kiem spends as much time as he can teaching his fellow villagers about the craft to ensure the tradition will live on. In an effort to involve the village’s children, Kiem opened a weekly summer class for kids, as well.

"The older generation will disappear little by little over time. We must rely on the younger generation, who have a true passion for flying kites, to preserve the art," Kiem said./.