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6 Kite Books to add to your shelves

There are lots of great kite books out there, ones that teach you about kite building, share stories and more.

Here are six kite books that seem to offer something else that I think you should try to add them to your shelves. I tried to include a few different ones to make it interesting. This is by no means a fully comprehensive list, just a mini one!


1. Wings of Resistance - The Giant Kites of Guatemala

Every year in the highlands of Guatemala, the town of Sumpango celebrates Day of the Dead by flying kites. The kites are massive, the largest measuring 45 feet in diameter. Smaller kites, close 20 feet in height, are flown in a death-defying race down the side of a mountain. From a distance, the kites appear luminous and blissful, but the radiant colors of the kites mask an ominous subtext. On closer inspection, the images on the sails depict people in agony and torment: mutilated bodies, mass burials, kidnappings, and rivers of blood. In graphic illustration, the kites allude to the dark and painful history of Guatemala's 30-year civil war. Originally centered on remembering the dead, the kite festival has become a way for the indigenous community to heal itself from the trauma of the war.

Wings of Resistance examines the politics and art of the giant kites, placing this Guatemalan tradition in the context of international kite cultures. The contributors include Alison Fujino, Christopher Ornelas, Jose Sainz, Scott Skinner, and Victorino Tejaxun.


2. The Art of the Japanese Kite - Tal Streeter

" This is a beautifully illustrated, sensitive and informative book on the art and culture of kite making and flying in Japan. Streeter achieves the perfect balance of telling his own story, and the story of the people and culture he moves through. There is technical and historical information, and insights into Japanese culture and thinking, but none of it is heavy going. A note though, it is not strictly an instruction manual, although a careful reading and a bit of imagination can get you along the path to creating Japanese style kites. Streeter is an American artist, and brings his own sensibility into the story, addressing the question (without answering it) whether an outsider can ever participate in the real culture of the kite with its traditions and craftmanship. There is always a slight sense of quirkiness, and a faint scent of a quest for the smallest, largest, most beautiful kite. It is a journey that the reader is effortlessly drawn along with. This is absolutely essential reading for kite enthusiasts, and for those with an interest in Japanese culture and/or art. I suspect it would have sold a few hundred thousand more copies if it had been titled ´Zen and the art of the Japanese Kite´ - but I rather like the way it is, an unexpected and rather rare treasure of a book. " (review by nandadevi)


3. Stunt Kites To Make & Fly / Stunt Kites II - New Designs, Buggies and Boats

This is a series of 2 books that gets into the basics of design and building maneuverable kites. While some of the materials may have changed since these books were published, there are a lot of sound design and building principles and techniques incorporated in the two books, along with some designs to follow.

Written by Servaas van der Horst & Nop Velthuizen. Originally published in Dutch, but there are English translations available.


4. Kites an Historical Survey - Clive Hart

An exhaustive study of the kite from it’s earliest legends to most recent developments.

“However it originated, the kite rapidly acquired religious, magical, and ceremonial significance in many of those parts of the world to which it spread. In at least some civilizations, including the Polynesian, kites seem have had some function as symbols of an external soul.” – Clive Hart, Kites an Historical Survey

Available at: The Bridge Kite Shop


5. The Flying Cowboy: Samuel Cody, Britain’s First Airman

Author Peter Reese gives an authoritative look at manlifter Samuel Franklin Cody’s aviation exploits in Britain. A naturalised British citizen (born in the USA), Cody came to England at the age of twenty-three and became a pioneer of early aviation, experimenting first with kites and later with engine driven aircraft, making the first powered flight in Britain.

Available at: The Bridge Kite Shop


6. Paper in Flight

The art kites in the exhibition and catalog Paper in Flight demonstrate the utility, strength, and beauty of Japanese handmade paper, long associated with the renowned Japanese kite-making tradition. However, these kites are anything but ordinary. Each artist pursued his or her own approach, exploring unusual formats, innovative structures, unorthodox combinations of materials, and unique subject matter. While nodding to tradition, these kites are flying sculptures, engineered for flight and inventive statements of art intended for the sky.

This catalog documents the paper making, design, construction, and fun of these unique and beautiful sculptures.

Available at: The Bridge Kite Shop


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