Feature: Turkey's kite museum seeks to survive as pandemic hits

Source: Xinhua| 2020-10-17 17:02:00|Editor: huaxia
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Mehmet Naci Akoz, president of Istanbul Kite Association and founder of the kite museum, presents the museum's collection in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo by Osman Orsal/Xinhua)

by Zeynep Cermen

ISTANBUL, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian student Ibrahim, who recently moved to Istanbul to study medicine, entered the kite museum with a curious glance and apparent excitement.

Turkey's single kite museum in the Uskudar district on the Asian side of Istanbul has been trying to stand on its own feet amid the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

"I wouldn't think that I would find a museum in the city dedicated to kites," he told Xinhua while gazing at the colorful kites in different shapes with admiration.

Mehmet Naci Akoz, president of Istanbul Kite Association and founder of the museum, told Xinhua that he created the 3,000-piece collection within 40 years and opened this museum in 2005.

He visited over 35 countries to gather the kites to be displayed in the museum.

"I was most impressed by the ancient kite culture of China, dating back to 300 B.C.," Akoz said in front of several picturesque three-dimensional Chinese kites located at the museum's most jazzy spot.

He went to China several times to collect some fascinating models for the gallery.

"Chinese people created thousands of models in shapes of everything that comes to mind," Akoz continued, saying that "they made the kite of a bicycle, wheelbarrow, and train with smoke coming out."

At the entrance of the museum, a giant Chinese dragon head with a 28 meters long tail swinging from the ceiling catches the eye.

"Here, you can only see 16 meters of its tail. The rest is on the shelves as we don't have enough space to display it all," he said.

A tortoise hanging on the wall is another model of a 3D Chinese kite. "It is made out of bamboo laths and covered with polyester. It is quite light, and it flies very comfortably," Akoz noted.

One of the most attractive Chinese kites in the collection is the one depicted as the head of a girl. Her long hair is the tail of the kite. One big eye and lip disproportionately were dilated on purpose.

"When floating in the air, she twinkles and sends kisses," he continued.

Liu Zhiping, an organizer of the Weifang International Kite Festival, which is a world-known event in Weifang known as the world's capital city of kites in China's Shandong Province, presented this piece as a gift to Akoz several years ago.

"Liu Zhiping is a highly prominent character who has worked hard to promote the Chinese kite culture to the world and I am proud that he is my friend," he said.

In Akoz's view, kite flying is generally considered as a child's toy in Turkey. He said the art of designing a kite is a neglected area, and therefore, many ancient Turkish models of kites disappeared because of this neglect.

The culture of kite arrived in Anatolia in the 13th century during the Ottoman era, but never became popular as in China, according to him.

Akoz has been working hard to introduce this art to Turkish children by giving workshops on the ground floor of the museum.

"We used to organize daily workshops for up to 100 pupils at once. Our weekly schedule used to be full before the pandemic," he said.

"But when the outbreak erupted in mid-March in Turkey, my sole source of income came to a full stop," he complained about his financial troubles, noting that Ibrahim was the only visitor to the museum for the last two days.

For the future, he keeps his hopes reserved and said, "even if the pandemic would be over, there is no space left in this megapolis for kite. Therefore, I am calling the city authorities to open some green area for children and support the art of kite." Enditem


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