The Indian fighting kite, or "Patang," is the traditional high-flying weapon of Indian children's games, as well as several national festivals. Highly responsive and acrobatic, the Patang can be mastered to be a deadly airborne menace to other kites, severing their strings with a special glass-coated line called a Manjha. While constructing a Patang of your own can be a challenging and time-consuming process, the end result will be a personal, customised fighter kite of which you alone are complete master.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- 1/3-inch bamboo shoots
- Utility knife
- High-tension craft wire
- Light plastic material
- Non-acidic epoxy glue
- Two-handled line winder
- Crushed glass
- Rubber cement
- Heavy gloves
- Construction goggles
Decide on a shape for your Patang. While a diamond-shaped kite is traditional, experiment a little bit and decide which shape you like best. If you're not confident creating the kite from scratch without a design, sketch out your kite's shape first. The only requirements for a Patang design are an aerodynamic "nose" section (the part that will lead the kite in its acrobatic manoeuvres), and a centre crossbar. The crossbar serves a dual function as structural support as well as an anchoring point for your string.
Cut the bamboo shoots to match the skeletal structure of your kite design. Attach them at the joints with the high-tension wire. Be sure the structure stays together firmly, otherwise high-altitude winds will pose a serious threat to your kite's structural integrity.
Attach the plastic sheeting to the outermost kite frame with the epoxy. Allow the smallest amount of slack in the material, or sharp winds will puncture your kite while flying.
Crush glass into a pile of small, sharp pieces. Be careful while doing this; wear the heavy gloves and goggles to avoid injuries. Once fully crushed, move the glass into one large pile.
Unwind your Patang's string and coat a 10-foot section of it in the rubber cement. While still wearing the gloves and goggles, carefully pull the glue-coated string through the pile of glass by winding up the string, making sure to coat all sides. Repeat this process until the entire string is coated with a fine layer of crushed glass and is securely wound up into your winder. Leave a 6-inch section of uncoated string at the base of the kite, to avoid injuries to either you while working on the Patang, or to the kite itself.
Attach the glass-coated string to the centre crossbar. This can be accomplished most easily be tying the end of the line tightly around the crossbar's lowest point, and then coating the fastened knots with a layer of the strong epoxy used earlier. This double-securing technique will ensure that your line doesn't come off the kite in mid-flight.
Tips and warnings
- The design of a Patang is as unique as its owner. You can customise its shape, wing decorations, the colour of the string, etc. Just make sure the kite is still light enough to fly.
- The sport of kite fighting is a notoriously dangerous one. The glass-coated line moves very quickly, and can be responsible for many deaths over the course of a single Indian tournament. Be aware of people in your area, and warn them if they get too close.
- Wear your gloves and goggles while fighting to reduce the risk of injury.
- Because it includes an aerial component, be sure of your local rules regarding aerial vehicles of any kind before attempting a match with your friends.
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