Easter 1998 / Grenada

Grenada Kite Festival and
West Indies Kite Workshops


Kites being sold in St. George's Farmers Market

 

The prettiest kite entries were tissue paper appliqué in which finely cut out designs were glued to white tissue background. Very delicate. And then more decorations around the outside border of the kite. This family had been winning the competitions for several years and were very proud of their entries. We first learned about the "Mad Bull" from the McLawrence-Bethels.

The traditional island kite is similar to one made all over the Caribbean. It is a hexagonal kite, which has been elongated and then the top section is bowed to form the "nose". The line which tensions the nose is also where the hummer or "Mad Bull" is attached. This is either tissue paper or cellotape attached to the bowline which vibrates in the wind, or "Sings". Then a long tail is attached to the bottom of the kite. The tail is about a 20 to 1 ratio to the length of the kite and is attached to a line that hangs from the lower two points of the hexagon. The tail material is usually made from strips of cotton fabric torn up and tied in knots to form the lengths needed.
 

Two tails are flown on a kite. For a very big kite three or four tails are used. The bridle is a three point bridle with the top two points attached to the top two corners of the kite and the third point attached to the center of the kite.

A local kite maker told us that if bamboo is used to make the kite, they bridle the kite higher because the bamboo will flex and still be stable. If strips of wood are used, then the kite is bridled lower which makes the kite more stable, and pull harder.

There is a variation to the normal or "nose kite" as it is referred to. This variation has about 12 points on it instead of the normal 6 and is fully symmetrical, forming a circular kite with a bowed nose. This is called the "Moon kite", though much less prevalent than the normal hexagonal kite.

The next day was Good Friday, which is really a major kite day in the lower Caribbean. Neighbors at the hotel who were from Barbados and Guyana informed us this is the day when everyone in their countries goes out and flies kites. So on Good Friday we toured the Island with our Taiwanese hosts, Walter Chang and his daughter Jennifer (4 years old).

Everywhere we went we saw children walking around with kites. Our waiter the night before said that's the way many Grenadians celebrate Good Friday. They put up kites and tie them off and leave them up flying for the next week, all singing away on 1500 - 2000' of line. Of course on the down side we met folk who would say, "I was up all night, couldn't sleep. There was a "Mad Bull" over my house all night". We loved them and listened for the Mad Bulls all the time. It was really cool to hear kites before you can spot them.

 



 

Credits: Bob Harris Consulting / Dancing Frog