History of Khmer Kites
planet. kite. matrix.
|by Mr. Sim Sarak and Mrs.Cheang Yarin|
1. Before Nokor Phnom or Pre-Funan era
The original name of "Khleng Ek" was "Khleng Pnorng"
invented by Khmer ancestors by around 400 BC. In the old time the
Khmers like flying their kites in the harvest season. Before Nokor
Phnom era, the Khmer believed in "Neakta"(an animistic spirit
or deity ) and this belief led to the celebrations of "Fete of
Neakta" at the beginning of the rainy season in order to invoke
the spirits to procure rains for farming. During the harvest season,
the Khmers performed the festival of kiteflying to express their gratitude
to their ancestor spirits for ensuring sufficient rains for farmers
and a prosperity for all in general. In the ancient time, the locals
used straight hard bamboo for making kite skeletons (spars) and weaved
tree-leaves for covering their kite bodies.
Nokor Phnom or Funan era
(early 1st century to 6th century)
During the first centuries of the Christ era, the state of Nokor
Phnom (Funan) was influenced by Indian civilization, especially relegion,
literature and arts. The favour of the cult of kite-flying flying
by the locals became dominant form of worship in the past and then
became of their faith in Neakta and Hindu to express their gratitude
to their ancestor spirits and "Preah Peay" (Divinity of
Wind) for securing a satisfactory harvest.
(7th - 8th centuries)
During this era, the country enjoyed a successful policy of water, thus leading to emerging cities along the river. The agriculture sector experienced with a fine prospect and the cult of kite-flying became more systematic than the one under Nokor Phnom era.
Due to a political instability toward early 8th century, the country
was split into two: "Land Chenla" and "Water Chenla".
The country fell into the hands of "Java" of Sailendras
4. Angkor era
Angkor era was the most glorious days of the Khmer society after
the country was liberated from Java in 802 by a Great Khmer King,
Jayavarman II. His people enjoyed real peace and blended well in participating
in Buddhist and Hindu ritual ceremonies. The mass population joined
in the construction of numerous bridges and roads and many wonderful
and attractive temples . The glory took root of the irrigation policy
encouraging the building of big reservoirs to ensure enough water
Under the reign of King Satha 1
Only until this moment, the Khmers resumed their practice of kite-flying. According to the account of a Portuguese visitor, Mr. Quiroga de San Antonio, who came to Cambodia in 1590, "the Khmers flew their kites by using Babos (a kind of tree) as skeletons and paper to cover the kite body and the kites aired attractive musical sounds when they were flying into the sky", he wrote.
However, there was no records that the king celebrated the kite
flying ceremony eventhough the kite was revived.
Under the reign of King Srei Suriyopor
During his reign, it was reported that the king celebrated this
festival every year but was based on Buddhist cult.
Under the reign of King Ang Duong
King Ang Duoung was one of the Khmer king full of gracious virtues
and committed himself to Buddhism. He paid attention to promoting
peace in the country and raising living conditions of his countrymen.
He assigned his institutions and government to build a road leading
from Oudong Meanchey, Royal Palace, to Kampot province to reach the
seaport and another road leading from the royal capital to Kampong
Luong, an important river port in Kandal province. He was a king friendly
to the environment. He issued a royal instruction to protect the country's
natural resources and not to hunt wild animals and not to fish by
deploying "pruol" (tirellis) across canals and rivers. Concerning
the conservation and development of the tradition and culture, king
Ang Duong built numerous schools attached to pagodas throughout the
country and also encouraged poets and writers to show their works.
He was outstanding himself as a poet and writer.
During the period of Sangkum Reas Niyum
In 1863_that was four years after king Ang Duong died Cambodia became
a French colony. Since then kite-flying habit became a casual entertainment
only because of the threat of poverty and the lack of freedom of expression.
However, elderly people and monks still managed to play their role
of conservation of the national culture and the intangible culture
of kite flying inclusive.
Until 1992 a handful of elderly persons, who still remembered the
skills of making Khleng Ek and love this segment of intangible culture,
resumed flying their kites with caution in the open field. They were
cautious because they were aware that landmines possibly still remained
here and there.
Special Characteristic of "Khleng Ek"
a) Khleng Ek is equipped with Ek, a kind of musical instrument which
can air many melodic tones when it flies higher into the sky;
All these characteristics already reflected in a code conducts written in 17th century by a famous poet, a prince whose name was Preah Reach Samphear.
A section of his poem read as follows:
The kite flies higher because of the wind,
|Phnom Penh, August 1, 2004|
Khmer Kites INDEX - planet.kite.
Phnom-Penh National Kite Museum
A kite tour through cambodia 2001
about khleng ek kite and music /uli wahl
planet. kite. matrix.