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The traditional Indian fighter kite flies on a two-point bridle. Cross holes are made at the top where the spine and the bow intersect. A second set of holes is made on either side of the spine at approximately two thirds of the length of the spine.

One end of the bridling line is looped through the top holes and knotted tightly, effectively fixing the bow to the spine. The other end is looped through the bottom holes and knotted. You now have an inverted “V” shaped line tied to the kite at both ends. You then pinch the twin lines between your thumb and forefinger and draw the bottom bridle out along the spine until it reaches approximately 1-1.5 inches above the top tow point (knot). You then draw the top bridle down to the bottom knot or tow point and tie a knot that fixes the relative lengths of the top and bottom bridles, leaving a little loop at the top to which you will attach the flying line.

The top bridle needs to be shorter than the bottom to make the kite maneuverable. If the bridles are made almost equal in length, the kite will fly sluggishly and simply shake from side to side – a little like the Indian sideways head shake that foreigners seem to find so amusing! A little fine tuning might be necessary to get your kite to fly right: too much turn and a knot at the bottom might help to steady the kite. Too sluggish? Perhaps a knot in the top bridle might be the answer. If the kite tracks too much to one side, the solution is to either add some weight to the bow on the opposite side (either by sticking on a piece of putty or knotting a bunch of string to the bow) or to bend and flex the bow a little on the opposite side.... This is best left to more experienced kite flyers, or you might snap the thin bamboo bow! And splicing a broken bow is a whole different story.

Dori:

There are two kinds of flying line  – the plain cotton line called Sadda and the glass coated cutting line called Manjha. Most flyers will use both: the Manjha, about 100 yards of it, at the front and then the Sadda - so that you don’t cut your hands during a pench or “tangle” as it is commonly called in the West. In Gujarat, India they use only Manjha.

Manjha making is a traditional skill which is handed down over generations and families jealously guard their secret recipes for the manjha paste. The basic ingredients are powdered glass (crushed tube lights are supposedly the best!), some colour and a binding agent – generally a cooked paste of wheat or rice flour. To this each manjha maestro adds his own secret ingredients - and everybody claims that his manjha is the best!

The cotton thread is strung in eight or ten strands between two poles and the manjha maker walks up and down the length with the paste in his hands, finely coating the threads at each pass until the desired effect is achieved. The thinner, or 6 ply thread manjha, is generally preferred for its suppleness over the thicker 10 ply which might be used in stronger winds.

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