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Malay Culture

Layang-layang Game (Bengkalis, Indonesia)


1. Origin

The time when layang-layang game has made it appearance and becomes a folk game in Bengkalis, Riau, Indonesia is still unknown. However, during the Dutch colonialism, this game has been extensively recognized among Bengkalis community, especially Sungai Pakning region. There are some models of layang-layang can be found in Bengkalis such as Kawau, Sahari bulan/Sri Bulan, Gasing, Camar, and Serawati

The frame of Kawau kite is made of six ripped-sticks of bamboo; two sticks for kepak (wings), two for batang (main frame) and reminders for ekor (tail).   


Sahari Bulan/Sri Bulan kite is made of five ripped sticks of bamboo; two sticks for kepak, a stick for batang, and others for ekor

Gasing kite is made of four ripped sticks of bamboo; two sticks for kepak, a stick for batang, and another for ekor.

Camar kite is made of seven ripped sticks of bamboo; two sticks for kepak, a stick for batang, and four sticks for ekor.

Serawati kite is made of four ripped sticks of bamboo; two sticks for kepak, and the others for batang and ekor.

2. Players

Since layang-layang game commonly played by men; adults and children alike, it is often said that kite is men made game. This game requires set of basic skills and general knowledge in weather, wind direction/velocity, compass, and when to pull and pay out the rope. These skills will be helpful in raising kite, keeping it stable in the skies, and measuring accurately how player can control a kite‘s flight path.

3. Place and Tools

As this game usually played by many people, it necessitates spacious place where the moderate wind blows. The used materials and tools are:

  1. Bambu pesing (bamboo) whose joints are wide and thick,
  2. Benang rami (string) for combining the layang-layang frame,
  3. Rotan sogo batu (rattan) for emitting echoic sound,
  4. Kertas jeluang (paper)/parachute/synthetic material for sail covering layang-layang frame,
  5. Kertas parade (paper) for decoration,
  6. Pencil/pen for drawing decoration,
  7. Coconut oil for lubricating bamboo sticks,
  8. Getah para (sap)or glue for attaching papers,
  9. Blade for cutting bamboo,
  10. Knife for splitting and grinding bamboo and rattan, and
  11. Scissor for cutting paper/cotton/parachute and string          

4. Rule and Process

Summer is the suitable season for playing layang-layang. As kite is heavy and the air supports it to lift, this game is commonly played when the wind blowing moderately such as in morning and afternoon. Its distance or height is controlled from the ground by playing out the string. There are two kinds of kite game proliferating among Bengkalis society; layang-layang bergelas (kite for fighting) which usually using kite serawai and kite for attractiveness. In the first kind of game, the players/competitors attempt to use their kites to attack and down the kites of opponents by cutting off the other player string. The winner is person whose kite still flies in the wind. Often the string that is attached to these kites is coated with crushed glass. This process makes the string very sharp and capable of cutting the opponents string. In the second kind, the kites are elaborately designed and decorated in the forms of birds, fish, or dragons and may be equipped with whistles or pipes that emit musical sounds as the wind blows through them. The judge will give score for shape, sound of kites when flown in about 150 meters in height. Typically, this game takes time approximately two hours.  

5. Cultural Value

Besides offering a pleasure and being personal hobby, layang-layang game has instructive and cultural values. A few things may be said therefore about the educational aspects of the game such as competition, creativity, sportiveness, and esthetic (art). Kite flying may serve as competitive trigger in that each player tries to be the winner. In esthetical value, kite making encourages experiments in design, provides opportunities for pictorial expression, by means of emblems and patterns with which they may be properly made and decorated.

Source :

Balai Kajian Sejarah dan Nilai Tradisional Riau, 1984, Permainan Rakyat Daerah Riau, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.

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