The battle of the sexes takes strange forms around the world. Artist John Groth, who has depicted some of its bizarre aspects in the past, encountered what may be its oddest manifestation in Thailand recently while on tour for SI. This is kite fighting, in which masculine size and strength, represented by the chula (above, left) is pitted against the smaller, speedier female of the kite species, the pakpao. Teams of four to 20 men send up kites made of thin rice paper and seasoned bamboo and engage each other with the purpose of bringing down the opposing "him" or "her" in their own court. At left, Groth has painted kite fighting's World Series, staged by the Thai Traditional Sports Association on the huge green Pramane Parade Grounds near Bangkok's Imperial Palace. Not only a popular pastime for many centuries, kiteflying also brightens Thailand folklore. One amorous prince is said to have mounted to his lady love's chamber via a taut kite string.
IN COURTS SEPARATED BY A LOW FENCE, OPPOSING TEAMS MANEUVER LARGER, PLUNGING CHULA KITE AND MORE AGILE PAKPAO IN AERIAL COMBAT AGAINST A BACKGROUND OF BANGKOK'S GOLDEN TEMPLES