Credit by Cave panting illustration ©
World's First Kite Painted in a Cave in Indonesia
FUN FACTS Indonesia

World's First Kite Painted in a Cave in Indonesia

Did you know that until 1997, China was known as the inventor of world’s first kite? This China’s kite predictably existed in China since 2800 years ago, and made from silk and gold bamboo as its frame. It has long been believed by historians Clive Hart of England and Tal Streeter of the U.S. that the Chinese claim to the invention of the kite is invalid, that the kite is likely to be much, much older than previously thought.

Well, not anymore. Now, many experts believe that the first kite in the world was made in somewhere at the southeastern tip of Sulawesi island, Indonesia. How come? old?

Very old as it was found in prehistoric cave painting in the island. 

Image by
Image by

Sulawesi, one of the islands in Indonesia, has many fascinating paintings; some that are more than 40,000 years old. One particular drawing, found in a cave on Muna Island (Southeast Sulawesi province) shows a painting that is highly possible to be a man flying a kite. The cave keeper, found the drawing in 1996. The cave itself is located in the village of Liang Kabori 

It was further recognized when a guy from Germany, called Wolfgang Bieck, a kite enthusiast, came to Indonesia in 1997. He was told that there was a cave painting of a kite on Muna Island.

Muna island |
Muna island |

That is when Wolfgang became more intrigued about the true origin of the kite, as for years China had claimed its origin. So he traveled back to Indonesia a few years later with his wife Mong Hie. They ventured to Muna Island, which is just off the Southwest of Sulawesi, to see the first and only prehistoric cave painting of a kite. Wolfgang and Mong Hie took the photos displayed in this article, which don’t only show the painting but also the beautiful landscapes and scenery on Muna Island. 

Liangkabori cave |
Liang kabori cave |

It is a three to 3 km trek to the cave itself, which lies at the foot of one of the mountains. It involves walking down very steep coral rocks and down into a hole, which is approximately 250m high over today’s sea-level.  This is where Wolfgang saw the painting. He said it was one of the highlights in his life, as the painting shows a man standing in a dynamic posture holding a leaf kite.

Leave kite |
Leave kite |

Through several years of research, it’s believed that the cave drawing in Muna dated since Epi-paleolithic era (Mesolithic period), or about 9,000-9,500 BC. Wolfgang then declared that the kite in the cave in Muna was the first kite ever been flown by human. Wolfgang went on writing his experience and published  his writing in a Germany magazine titled "The First Kite Man".

Computer interpretation |
Computer interpretation |

The culture of this little island revolves around kites. We can see children all over the green valleys flying them high in the sky. It is natural proof that the kite culture still lives on here, and not only on Muna Island but all around Sulawesi. In the villages and down little city streets you will see children holding tin cans with string leading up into the sky. At the end of the string is a small piece of plastic attached to a stick of wood. These are their kites. The kites are so simple and the children love to fly them. They even fly with the lightest of winds. It is a pleasant sight just to see children having fun without technology distracting them.

In the past, kites were used as a tool to expel the destructive animals of their farming fields. The kite carried  a wooden tool that could make loud noise whenblown by the wind. That loud noise is to frighten the animals.

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