Skip to main content

How to Decorate a Wau Kite

This article will break down how to make Malaysian wau kites.

This article will break down how to make Malaysian wau kites.

Decorating With Wau Kites

Decorating a kite is a ton of fun. My kite decorating classes have fully engaged participants of all ages. Artists will want to use art materials, including heavy specialty papers, but may incorporate some of the same techniques of stamping.

For kids especially, this is a fun project that can be returned to again and again, as wau kites just look happy.

This article will show you how to make your own wonderful wau kite!

What's a Wau Kite?

Originating in Malaysia and named after the Arabic letter wau (pronounced "wow") for its similar shape, it most closely resembles an English number 9 in Comic Sans font. So two nines, set back-to-back with the tails at the bottom, resemble two waus in the same positions.

Although many ancient kites were used as tools for fishing or to make geometric measurements, these particular wau kites are strictly decorative.

In Malaysia, one commonly sees such kites adorning both private homes and shops, and public buildings.

My box of materials.

My box of materials.

How to Make and Decorate a Wau Kite

Here's what you need to know to make your own wau kite.


  • Butcher paper or Tyvek
  • Markers and crayons
  • Tempera or acrylic paint
  • Liquid soap
  • Stencils and foam stencil daubers
  • Design stamps
  • Cereal box or foam craft sheet


  1. Tape butcher paper or Tyvek sheet to the table.
  2. Trace the kite outline with a marker.
  3. Add a couple of drops of soap to a small dish of paint. Gently mix with a Popsicle stick or equivalent.
  4. Dip the stamp into the paint dish and stamp the design onto the kite. Repeat or redip the stamp into the paint, or wipe the stamp clean with a wet rag.
  5. Tape the stencil over the desired area of the kite. Touch dauber into the dish of paint and daub over stencil design. Repeat with the same or different color paint.
  6. Dip the wide paintbrush in paint and stroke paint onto the kite. Once the paint dries, it can be painted over with a contrasting color or stamps.
  7. Dip damp sponge shape into paint and stamp design onto a kite, using gentle pressure. Redip the sponge into the paint and continue stamping. Rinse sponge shape in water.
  8. Layer design shapes over the entire kite shape: cut a cardboard piece the same size as the kite body. Use double stick tape to attach the decorated kite sheet to the front of the optional backing sheet. Alternatively, if you use paper rather than Tyvek to make the kite, you may glue the backing sheet to the paper kite.
  9. Cut and tie tail decorations from ribbon, yarn, or plastic bags.
  10. Hang on the wall with poster putty!

Optional Modifications

  • Use a shish kebab skewer, taped to the kite's back, to stabilize the kite.
  • Use packing tape for permanency. Using this method makes hanging easy!
  • Loop thread or fishing line under the skewer, near the top. Hang the kite by placing the loop over a small nail or picture hanger.
  • Hang the kite by placing the loop over a small nail or picture hanger.

My Variation on the Wau Kite Shape

The above photo is my take on one of many variations of the wau kite shape. Feel free to vary your own kite profile.

I made the triangle spot at the top to mimic the typical fringy flag or tassel that often adorns the top of the kite. Matching tassels also stream from the outside points of the top section.

Did you know that tails and tassels actually play a role in stabilizing kites?

Sled Kite Kits

I used the sled kite shape for a class I taught on making wau kites. I simply drew the wau shape, and the students were free to paint the outer borders as they liked. So they were wau kites on sled kite shapes.

Additional Kite-Making Resources

© 2012 lesliesinclair

What Do You Like About Kites?

lesliesinclair (author) on February 18, 2014:

@randomthings lm: Thanks, they're fun to make too - just a bit of paint and some stamps and brushes.

randomthings lm on February 18, 2014:

These are so pretty! Thanks for sharing.

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on February 16, 2014:

Those kites in the Malay store is just stunning.

Ben Reed from Redcar on September 16, 2013:

These kites are fabulous.

lesliesinclair (author) on August 31, 2013:

@Marja79: I know just what you mean. If someone had tried to tell me about the type of kits I would have pictured "wow" since that's what wau sounds like. Luckily for me, I saw them at the restaurant and immediately liked the shapes. Thanks for the compliments.

Marja79 on August 31, 2013:

I had never heard about Wau kites either. At first the word kite did not say anything to me, even though I sure know what kite is. I chose to read this lens based on the fact I had no idea what this is about :D I loved this lens. Those Wau kites are gorgeous.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 29, 2013:

@Jogalog: You're right, the workshops are fun. I think it has something to do with the curvy shape.

Jogalog on July 28, 2013:

These are lovely. I'd never heard of wau kites before but I would love now to have a go at making one. The kite making workshops must be great fun.

JennAshton on July 26, 2013:

These are beautiful!!

lesliesinclair (author) on July 25, 2013:

@EpicEra: Thanks. The thing that piqued my interest, after noticing their shapes, was that they were even used in fishing.

EpicEra on July 25, 2013:

Beautiful kites of all shapes and sizes! Lovely artwork. The colors are gorgeous. One can almost feel the kites taking flight from this page.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@LoriBeninger: So glad you like them.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@Pat Goltz: They really are a friendly style, aren't they.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@takkhisa: Knowing a little more about kites makes me want to see the kite racing in Afghanistan.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: The story that most piqued my interest was the one of lifting a baby across a river by kite.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@aesta1: They do have such a playful look, at least my version of these kites. I think they could help kids learn about the Asian cutulre, and how kites played roles other than fun and exercise, too.

lesliesinclair (author) on July 21, 2013:

@LiteraryMind: Sadly, the one and only place I've personally seen the kites, a local Malaysian restaurant, has closed and took their kites with them.

LoriBeninger on July 18, 2013:

I had never heard of (or seen) these types of kites before -- they are beautiful. Thank you for the introduction.

Pat Goltz on July 07, 2013:

They're pretty. Thanks for telling me about this design.

Takkhis on July 06, 2013:

I have never seen kites like these before and yes I know a traditional style of making kites :)

WriterJanis2 on July 05, 2013:

This is the first time I've seen these kind of kites. Very cool!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 17, 2013:

So colourful. Great for kids room.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on September 03, 2012:

These are beautiful. I never heard of a wau kite before.