Manja (kite)

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Cotton threads being coloured and glass-coated.

Manja (or manjha) is the abrasive string used for fighter kites in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is gummed, coloured and coated with powdered glass. In Brazil, the mix of glue and powered glass is called "cerol".

Kites are fought all throughout the year and during special kite flying festivals in the region. Two fighters will entangle the glass powder coated manja while flying their kites in the sky and try to cut off the string of each other's kites by pulling it.

The winner's kite keeps flying while the loser's kite gets cut and drifts away with the wind. Children and/or adults run after a cut kite and try to capture it when it falls to the ground, a practice called kite running.


A kite shop in Lucknow, India
People preparing and applying manja to the kite thread, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Traditional recipes use rice gluten, tree gums and similar natural ingredients, and the exact recipe is often a closely guarded secret of the individual maker. By contrast this is a modern recipe used by some in Tamil Nadu:

Ingredients

  • finely powdered glass
  • industrial adhesive such as Vajram
  • maida flour ( Maidha Movu)
  • aluminum oxide, abrasive ( Called as Sudu Movu in Chennai, looks white in Colour)
  • zirconia alumina, abrasive ( Called as Iron Powder in Chennai, looks Black in Colour)
  • coloring
  • isabul
  • mustaki

The water is boiled with the addition of vajram, to which is added a paste of maida and finely powdered glass pieces to make a thick colloidal solution and the abrasives are added. The colouring is added, while stirring is continued to make a thick paste without the sedimentation of the glass and abrasives.

A kite shop in Lucknow, India
People preparing and applying manja to the kite thread, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Traditional recipes use rice gluten, tree gums and similar natural ingredients, and the exact recipe is often a closely guarded secret of the individual maker. By contrast this is a modern recipe used by some in Tamil Nadu:

Ingredients

  • finely powdered glass
  • industrial adhesive such as Vajram
  • maida flour ( Maidha Movu)
  • aluminum oxide, abrasive ( Called as Sudu Movu in Chennai, looks white in Colour)
  • zirconia alumina, abrasive ( Called as Iron Powder in Chennai, looks Black in Colour)
  • coloring
  • isabul
  • mustaki

The water is boiled with the addition of vajram, to which is added a paste of maida and finely powdered glass pieces to make a thick colloidal solution and the abrasives are added. The colouring is added, while stirring is continued to make a thick paste without the sedimentation of the glass and abrasives.

References[edit]