Before 1915 if you had a kite either you or someone else made it. This exhibit describes one of the first kite manufacturers, John Frier, Sr. His Company named ALOX rolled off their self-created assembly line kites in 1927.
The Museum, with the assistance of Frier’s granddaughter, Nancy Frier, has created the story of how this industry functioned and survived until 1989. It includes the dime store and variety store outlets, the shift from paper to plastic, the inclusion of what were called promotion kites, and other necessities to prosper.
Dime Store Kites This exhibit of paper and plastic kites from the 1920s to the 1960s introduces visitors to kites and kite manufacturers of that era. It includes 3-stick kites, paper diamonds, and box kites; some decorated with old favorites like the Man in the Moon, Jolly Roger, cowboys, etc. Many others of that era advertise products.
Another part of the exhibit collects stories of visitors kite adventures Five unique Peninsula kite stories and a map so visitors can see where they took place is available to everyone.
Dime Store Signage
Dime Store Kites
More Dime Store Signage
Eye Witness to Disaster and Triumph Explains the significance of the famous George Lawrence’s spectacular kite aerial photographs of the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The pictures of the disaster and the remarkable rebuild two years later were taken with a specially built fifty-pound camera.
Kites of World War II Shows how the military dealt with communication before cordless phones, radar and Internet. From the 13’ X 10’ barrage kite to the first two line maneuverable target kites decorated with enemy air planes, each of the kites is an original from the 1940s. Uniforms on loan from Ilwaco Heritage and the Luethe Family plus World War II posters add color.
Air Mail Kite
A Kite Junket Through Southeast Asia Begins in Japan, which is the featured Asian kite collection this year. A video of the Shironi Festival helps you realize the passion behind the Japanese kite culture.
Other countries on the kite tour include China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Each country’s kites are made of different materials, have different decorations and are used and flown for different reasons.
Kites from Thailand: Dating from the 13th Century, kites were flown in this Buddhist country as a blessing by priests. Often they had reeds stretched across the back making a humming sound. Today kites are flown in tournaments at the beginning of the monsoon. It is a match between a large kite called a chula and several smaller kites named pakapaos. The two different kites try to pull the other to his side of the field. The game makes exciting sport for fliers and spectators.
Many Malaysian kites have upper wings like the chula of Thailand. Their kites differ however, because of the intricate jewel like decorations on them and the elaborate trailing tails. Many tales and legends about kite escapades are passed orally through generations. A more prosaic kite of Malaysia, made by young and old, is the layang-layang. It doesn’t need directions to make. Any square piece of paper and some supple sticks can turn into a kite.
Japanese Kites: When kites came to Japan from China in the 7th century, they were flown as part of religious ceremonies to scare the devil or evil spirits or to call the gods down the flying line. They also became associated with celebrations and holidays such as invocations for a rich harvest, congratulations for a first-born son.
The kite culture of Japan is vast and varied.
Three Headed Dragon
Chinese Kites: The first written accounts of kite flying in China were stories about using them in battle to measure distances and to frighten the enemy at night with noisemakers from the sky. Because of the availability of bamboo, paper and silk, the Han Dynasty allowed kites to become a universal folk art and made it possible for all people to enjoy kite flying. Today China is famous for six main kite regions. Each region uses a unique kite style, with over three hundred types of kites.
Indonesian Kites: Indonesia is another place where kites began very early in time. Their first kites were made from leaves. Leaf kites were used to get their fishing line farther out to sea. Kites were also used to catch large fruit bats.
Because of the strong winds around the Indonesian islands, very large kites were created out of the indigenous bamboo, cotton fabric and later nylon taffeta. Indonesian kites are mostly shaped like birds and animals.
The Korean Kite Story Exhibit “The Korean Kite Story”, a new exhibit at the Museum, includes replicas of the unique signal kites used by Admiral Yi Sun-sin in the 1590s war with Japan. The kite decoration is a code to direct the Army and Navy. Visitors can decode messages and send messages in kite code.
Other kites in the exhibit are decorated with both the folk and fine arts of Korea. The popular game of kite fighting and its amazing use of a spinning line winder is a third Korean category. A short video of the flying technique plays regularly.
India’s Kite Culture One wall is covered with the plain and fancy fighter kites of this country whose enthusiastic kite fighting may look like a free-for-all. Their holiday festivals originate from the belief of a connection between sky and earth.
However, the kite games happen regularly like a golf and bowling happen here. Cutting line is available for investigation and kites displaying literary scenes of the country add depth.
Kites of India
This exhibit accompanies the featured Hall of Fame member, George Pocock. They both involve multi-line kites, which accomplish the power to pull.
After Pocock’s development of a pair of four-line arch kites to pull a carriage, the next time multi-line kites appeared in large amounts was Paul Garbor’s WWII Target kites that pulled a moving object to train gunners on ships.
The two-line stunt kite was popularized for the general public by Peter Powell. His 3 & 4-foot diamonds with their dramatic tails became a new flying entertainment and performing opportunity.
Soon the delta wing two-line kites were developed and provided more move ability and pull. By flying these kites in tandem, the tremendousness pulling of kites came to the forefront.
The final part of this exhibit includes Peter Lynn’s prototype kite buggy, a video of skiing on ice and snow pulled by kites. The fourth wall shows how kites are pulling individuals, small boats and big tankers. Sorry, no room for the larger kites and tankers! Come visit.
Afghanistan: Kite Games with No Rules Like most Asian fighter kites, Afghani fighters are made of tissue paper and bamboo. However, there are three differences. The Afghani kite is much bigger, often two people man the kite – the flyer and the line handler who also acts as runner, and kites are often let out over 1,000 feet. The exhibit also shows how political events affect kite flying.
The book “The Kite Runner” is included and it shows how California’s Basir Beria worked on the movie about the book. Beria will be at the Washington State International Kite Festival, August 17-23. He will make a presentation about his experiences making the movie, Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at the Kite Museum.