Articles

  • Cheang Yarin and Sim Sarak have proven to be very special kite ambassadors for their home country of Cambodia. After publishing Khmer Kites in 2003, and after countless trips to the countryside to teach kite making and ferret out lost Cambodian kite heritage, Cheang and Sim have now published an updated version of Khmer Kites. Illustrated with many more photographs, the new edition continues to shed light on the obscured past of Cambodian kite culture.
  • Although kites are found on nearly every continent on earth, many countries’ kite traditions have been poorly documented. It is part of the Drachen Foundation’s mission to help research, document, and explore the kite world. For that reason Drachen has sent me into the field, whether to remote parts of the globe or to historic kite events, to record what I see. I have been to kite museums and festivals around the world, documenting, filming, and photographing.
  • Over a thousand years ago, according to the legend, a Cambodian trickster hero invented the first musical kite while imprisoned in China. Having run a popular noodle stand outside the palace walls in Beijing for several years, Thun Chhey had gained a reputation for his audacious sense of humor and startling feats of intelligence.
  • What is almost certainly the first extended English-language essay on Cambodia kites ever written has recently been published by Sim Sarak, director of the Department of Cultural Development of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sarak presented a signed copy of the unique document to the Drachen Foundation at a recent meeting with a free-lance representative of the institution, Ben Ruhe, in Phnom Penh. He also presented the foundation with a prize Kleng Ek kite, the royal kite of his country associated with the ancient Khmer culture.
  • The Khmer Rouge holocaust of the late l970s not only wiped out an estimated third of Cambodia’s population, but because it was aimed at the intelligencia—anyone wearing glasses, for example—— it obliterated much of the country’s culture. All but a handful of the royal dance company, which had performed worldwide, perished.
  • After graduating from college, Pennsylvanian Sarah St. Vincent explored her newly discovered Web-browsing interest in kiteflying by traveling to Cambodia for a bare bones research trip. The trip was partially funded by the Drachen Foundation. She spent ten months in Phnom Penh, finished off with brief kite research visits to neighboring Vietnam and Laos.
  • After its total suppression by the Khmer Rouge, kiting has made a resounding comeback in Cambodia. Last year a national kite museum was opened in the capital Phnom Penh with His Excellency Ouk Socheat, undersecretary of state for culture, presiding. Educational workshops for children at the museum were initiated and judged a great success. School tours of the facility began. And an annual kite festival bloomed with 80 enthusiastic participants.
  • The Drachen Foundation recently expanded its Board of Directors from six to eight. Added were Dave Lang, of Seattle, a veteran aerospace engineer, and Jose Sainz, of San Diego, renowned for his beautiful, elaborate kites with Indian motifs which reflect his personal Aztec heritage. “For us to grow,’ says Ali Fujino, Administrator of Drachen, “we needed some new viewpoints. Lang with his strong scientific background and Sainz with his refined esthetic sense bolster the Foundation in these two important areas.”
  • Reflecting a resurgence of interest in traditional culture, eight of the countries that make up the ASEAN confederation have taken the first step in establishing a kite council. ASEAN stands for Association of South East Asian Nations and is a trade group with sports and cultural components. Formation of a pro tem working committee to organize the council occurred at the recent Pasir Gudang festival in Johor, Malaysia.
  • “Dear Mr. Scott Skinner, “Because of the ongoing work of the Government of Cambodia to nuture its traditional cultural traditions, such as dance and music and kiteflying, the Government’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has made a particular effort to publish another important book on Khmer kites with the financial assistance of the Drachen Foundation of Seattle, Washingon, U.S.A.