Wau Bulan

The Moon Kite Of Malaysia

Wau Bulan is the name given to the ornate Malaysian Moon Kite. We were fortunate to see the real thing at a kite festival, in our home city of Adelaide, South Australia.

A large Wau Bulan in flight at the Adelaide Kite Festival.

It's almost funny to compare our MBK Roller designs with the magnificent Wau! They do bear a small resemblance to the Wau Bulan in that they have a large upper sail and a smaller lower sail. So far, there are 3 separate Roller designs to try, including the 1.2 meter (4 feet) span version in those downloadable books over on the right...

Our Dowel Roller is just so plain to look at, in comparison. At least it is a very reliable flier, which satisfies me personally.

Now, getting back to the festival... The organizers had invited a Malaysian kite master and his wife to the event. They brought with them a couple of large and beautiful Wau kites.

In addition, the couple brought a number of smaller non-flying kites. These were available for sale as ornaments.

A word about the names.. 'Wau', pronounced 'Wow', is an Arabic letter that looks something like the kite's shape. Also, the crescent shape of the rear sail led to the name 'Moon kite' in English. Oh, one more thing - 'Wow!' does pop into the heads of English-speaking people when they see one of these impressive kites for the first time. It did for me!

After a bit of research, it's clear that the kites we saw were indeed the famous Wau Bulan. I can't remember hearing any hummers though. Perhaps it would have been drowned out by the Kite Festival sound system anyway!

Apparently, most provinces in Malaysia have a variation on the Wau. For example, the Wau Kuching or Cat Kite and the Wau Merak or Peacock Kite. The Bulan version is the most popular however.

I was surprised at the efficiency of the Wau Bulan, since it managed to hold higher line angles than most other festival kites in the sky! That includes large Deltas which are known for their high flying angle.

We saw the Wau get upset by a patch of rough air, which caused it to gently spear into the dunes at one stage. The kite was undamaged, and was soon re-launched.

This Flash Wing Malaysian bird kite from Amazon is nothing like a traditional kite in terms of construction techniques or materials. But it tries to re-create the look of some Malaysian designs and probably appeals to people looking for something different!




The Wau Bulan - Some Details

As for most traditional kites around the world, the framework is made from split bamboo. Intricate floral patterns, which you can see in our photos, are cut from colored paper and pasted onto the tissue sails. Some makers prefer glossy reflective light paper for the sails instead of plainer-looking tissue.

As a final touch, paper tassels dangle from the wing tips. One of our photos show a tassle hanging from the nose as well. On some designs, these tassels can be quite bulky.

The entire process, from selection of materials through to final decoration takes quite some skill and patience, not surprisingly!

Size-wise, the kites are quite large, with the usual wing-span being 2.5 meters (9 feet). In some examples, the nose-to-tail measurement is around 3.5 meters (12 feet). The ones we saw were a little shorter than this. While not flying, both the Wau kites were stuck side-by-side and upright in a convenient sand-dune.

The Wau we saw flying had just a simple single-point bridle, as can be seen in the photos. No prizes for guessing which country has that flag, by the way!

The Wau kite at Semaphore Beach, trailing a Malaysian flag.

I'd hate to have to make one of these in a hurry ;-)

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Super Light And Variable In Victoria Park

    Sep 21, 14 09:44 PM

    Victoria Park adjacent to the Adelaide CBD in South Australia, that is. This large grassed area which forms part of the eastern parklands of the city is used for various events from time to time. Including, in the past, major horse racing and a section of a Formula 1 Grand Prix track.

    An invite had gone out to various kite enthusiasts to meet and fly, since the weather looked good. We arrived after lunch, only to discover very light winds. A lone R/C flier was enjoying the easy conditions with his 3-channel electric trainer. Like a tiny Cessna, if you're not familiar with model aircraft.

    For a while it seemed we were alone, before spotting a power kite in the distance, making brief forays into the air. Victoria Park is rather large!

    It actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable outing, with the 2.4m (8ft) Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite just scraping into the air. But then, thermals were everywhere. It wasn't long before the large pale blue kite went right overhead! At other times, I simply toyed with the Barn Door, floating it way out on a long line then pulling it up to over 200 feet.

    Another RC flier was now having success launching his glider, finding thermals, and gaining height in them.

    We were eventually joined by two other AKFA members including the President. A couple of ripstop-and-carbon light-wind kites went up, with plenty of success. By now the breeze had come across the park from just about every point of the compass. Variable indeed!

    In the distance, someone had been lofting a large but light-wind parafoil. It was interesting to see it sink out as an utter 'bag of washing' during a dead calm spell! Someone else had some success with a small blue Delta for a while.

    All up, a worthwhile day IF you were flying lightly-loaded kites! No luck for Mike with his power kite and skateboard...

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. Usually, photos and/or video from the day are posted a few days later on the MBK Facebook Page. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More





New! Comments

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