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THE KITE. Kangra, c. 1820. British Museum

In India, kite-flying is part of the Sun festival which occurs in early winterits aim being to bless the husband and obtain the boon of children for his wife. In medieval times, lovers sometimes transmitted messages by attaching them to kites and causing the latter to drop in the beloved's courtyard or near her feet. Even today, Indian youths occasionally cause their kites to fall where a girl is living in order to attract her notice. Kite battles are also arrangedthe string being treated with gum and powdered glass in order to give it a razor-like cutting edge. Victory in these combats is a tribute to the flyer's power of manoeuvre and provides the same intense elation as success in other sports.
In the picture, Krishna, a small figure on a distant terrace, is flying a kite while Radha is stooping to grasp its shadow. Its chance appearance is evidently intended to remind her of Krishna's presence and perhaps to suggest the awakening of their love.