Kite Making in The Bahamas

on July 4, 2016 | By Donald Duncombe

Kites made in The Bahamas are of paper and paper and other materials combined with wooden sticks or dowels. I don’t know of the origin of these except that it was part of growing up and a rite of passage as a young boy to learn to make your own kite so that you didn’t have to buy it from an older boy who made kites in the neighbourhood or from the factory made ones sold in the local food store that came from the U.S.A. There were times when we preferred “ready” made kites especially when we want to “catch” the wind. This would be those times when the wind or the breeze was blowing just right and making a kite at that moment may have caused you to lose the moment. Plastic “ready” made kites were also much stronger and gave a good pull on the line when it was really caught by the wind. When we were having a kite war or trying for a record of farthest kite or highest kite the plastic “T” kite may have come in handy. There was nothing though that could rival a really great made “Hummer” kite which was so aptly named by the sound produced by a piece of paper placed on its bow string at the head of it. The hummer was an “X” kite with additional wooden cross members which were tried together in the middle and on the outer ends to create a frame upon which the paper or skin could be attached. We made them out of the “bones” from coconut leaves for small kites to the jumbey plants stork or wooden roof shingles. To create tall kites to enter as largest kite entailed stripping lumber of spruce or other wood from the hardware store which could result in kites above ten feet tall and almost as wide. Kites bore the names of the letters of the alphabet such as “A”, “H”, “T”, “V”, “X” and “Qb” which was just a paper formed into a triangle with triangles for wings. The dynamics of kite flying is very complicated but the art is simplistic and enjoyable.
Bahamian Kite Making

Donald Duncombe

Nassauvian living in Freport, Grand Bahama. I operate Grum Ma's House Cultural Center in Hunter's , Grand Bahama where we offer Bahamas culture, heritage and cuisine tours to school children, residents and gusests.

Freeport Bahamas

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