The kite originated in China.
One Chinese philosopher named Mo Zi (478-392BC) who spent three
years on making a hawk out of wood which was broken after one day’s
flight. Probably that wooden hawk was the first kite in China. According
to the historical records, Lu Ban, one disciple of Mo Zi, made a
magpie out of bamboo, which could fly for three days in good condition.
Chinese kite has been praised as the forerunner of the modern airplane
by some people today.
earliest Chinese kites were made of wood and called Mu Yuan(wooden
kites); they dated as far back as the Warring States Period (475-221
B.C.) at least two millennia ago. Later the paper kite wasl called
Zhi Yuan. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), people began to fix
on kites with bamboo strips. When flying in the air it would vibrate
and ring in the breeze like a zheng (a stringed instrument). Since
then, the popular Chinese name for the kite has become Feng Zheng
(wind zheng). The kites made today in certain localities are fixed
with rings to send out pleasant sound in the wind.
Early kites were used for military purposes. Historical records
say they were large in size; some were powerful enough to carry
men up in the air to observe enemy’s movements, and others were
used to scatter propaganda leaflets over hostile forces or transmit
military information. But the main function of kite is for amusement
in the spring time. In the mid Tang Dynasty (618-907), the society
was stable and peaceful; the function of kites was gradually changed
from military purpose to entertainment. With the innovation of papermaking,
the raw material of kite changed from silk to paper. Kite became
popular among civilians with a richer variety of forms and reached
the peak point in the Song Dynasty (960-1279AD). Participated by
the literati, the making and the decoration of kites underwent great
development. Kite making became a profession due to the large demand.
The Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911AD), was the peak
period of the Chinese kite. The kites underwent great development
in size, design, decoration and flying skills. Scholars at that
time made kite by themselves, and sent to relatives and friends
as a gift, regarding it a literary pursuit. In recent years, kite
flying has publicized as a sports activity as well as entertainment.
Certain enthusiasts enjoy flying kites during the night. They hang
small colored lanterns on the line with candles burning inside,
which go up high in the air to decorate the night sky with strings
of glimmering lights, adding much to the fun.
Chinese kites fall into four major categories:
Centipede shaped kites
Centipede shaped kites always have a head and a train of kite disks.
Head and disks are interconnected with one, or three lines. Centipede
shaped kites may have enormous tractive power. These kites give
an attractive and vivid in-flight view, especially when the wind
moves and deforms the kite train. Centipedes with dragon heads are
typical for this kind of kite.
Kites with hard wings have symmetrically arranged bamboo frames;
the rigid central frame enhances the overall rigidity of the kite,
the frame was covered by glued paper or silk. Yangjiabu kites are
a typical example for Kites with hard wings from WeiFang. The kite
sail is made of paper or silk, and is colored by woodcut and/or
hand painted. Pictorial motifs and kite forms are of local custom.
The wings of this kind of kites do have rigid upper rims. The lower
sections of all these wings are flexible. This type of kites often
than one pair of wings that are arranged one pair above the other.
The kite on the left side is an example with two pairs of wings,
representing a precious breed of a goldfish. Every single Wing has
a rigid upper rim made of bamboo. Pictorial motives and forms represent
all kind of birds, insects, fishes etc. When floating in the wind
these kites give a very vivid sight of flight.
Flat kites are constructed within a single plane, and are made of
a complete rigid bamboo frame. All (four) sides of the frame or
of the frame segments are limited by bamboo strips.
These kites are very easy to fly. Most of them are flown with long
tails to grant a stable in-flight behavior. Flat kites are built
in many forms and types, very often with pictorial motifs from ancient
myths and religious ideas, very often with a picture of the ying-yang
How to make a kite?
First step is to make the frame. For the frame, the right kind of
bamboo must be selected. It should be thick and strong for a kite
of large dimensions in order to stand the wind pressure. For miniature
kites, on the other hand, thin bamboo strips are to be used.
The second step is to cover the frame. This is normally done with
paper, sometimes with silk. Silk kites are more durable and generally
of higher artistic value.
The third step is to paint the kite. Auspicious designs and symbols
are used to decorate the kite. That can make the kite have good
There are a lot of skillful craftsmen in making kite in China.On
the 1903 New York International Fair, kites made by Ha Changying,
received a warm welcome. At the 1914 Panama International Fair,
Wei Yuantai from Tianjin won the gold metal prize for his kites.
In 1983 a large-scale kite-flying competition was held in Tianjin.
A "dragon-headed centipede" of a hundred sections, with
a total length of a hundred meters, was flown up by 6 young men.
The well-known Weifang (Shandong Province) Kite Festival has become
an annual feature in the country, drawing hundreds of participants
each April from all over the world. Thus Weifang is called the Kite
Capital of the World.