What is the Brahminy Kite?

The Brahminy Kite is a raptor, or bird of prey, identified by chestnut colored plumage, a pure white head, and chestnut-colored eyes. A most notable bird, the kite has short legs and dark, almost black wing tips. With a wingspan of up to four feet, the Brahminy Kite is an easily recognizable species common to the plains of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. While they prefer to live primarily in the plains, these distinguished kites have been reported to have been seen upwards of five thousand feet in the Himalayas.

Also known as the Red Backed Sea Eagle, this raptor makes an unusual call while in flight that sounds like a light mewing “keeyew.” They attract their mates using complicated flight maneuvers and create nests from twigs and dried mud to lay their eggs. Female Brahminy Kites lay two eggs at a time, and both the mother and father are involved in caring for the young.


Religious and Cultural significance of the Brahminy Kite

Because the Brahminy Kite is such a recognizable and classic feature of wildlife in these regions, the bird has taken on cultural and religious significance.

Devotees of Hinduism are known to consider the Brahminy Kite to be a representation of Garuda, a demigod and divine creature closely linked to the Hindu god Vishnu. In Hindu mythology Garuda is a creature with a mix of eagle and human features and is frequently depicted as a mount, or the carrier upon which Vishnu is presented. In artistic iterations of Garuda, this is typically how he is portrayed.

Portrayed as a protector with the ability to travel swiftly where he is needed to be a vigilant protector as well as an enemy of serpents. In the epics he is presented as a powerful creature whose can stop the spinning of heaven, earth, and hell with by the flaps of his wings.

In Indonesia, the Brahminy kite is so well regarded that it is actually the official mascot of the country’s capital, Jakarta. In that region, it is called “elang bondol.” It can be found in a variety of uses including city statues and sports mascots.


Other Tales of the Brahminy Kite

Bougainville Island is the source of another tale of the Brahminy Kite. The fable tells the story of a mother who, while gardening, left her baby under a banana tree. The baby suddenly rose into the sky and through its cries transformed into Kaa’nang, the Brahminy Kite. The necklace that baby was wearing became the plumage of the bird we find so recognizable today.

Humans and the Brahminy Kite
As humans, we often find ourselves entranced by the magic and mystery of the raptors in our world. A glance toward the sky can often mean spotting a magnificent bird circling for prey and sparking our curiosities. The gorgeous and unusually colored plumage of the Brahminy Kite has long attracted the attention of the humans who share its land. It’s unsurprising so many cultures and religions have connected it with meaningful imagery in their practice.

The Brahminy Kite by White Beak

The power of wearing such an icon of strength cannot be denied. Our artistic rendering of the Brahminy Kite is ornamented by spiraling rococo leaves and strong geometric shapes, bringing to a peaceful mind the balance of life. No doubt, wearing this beautiful Brahminy Kite will make you feel surrounded by his protective wings and connected to the sky above.

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