Home > China Specials > Culture > Chinese Kite

Chinese Kite   

flying kiteHistory of Chinese Kite
The first kite was invented by Chinese people over 2, 000 years ago, with bamboo and silk as building materials, which are proved by many historical written documents.

Originally, kites were used for military purposes. Kites in wartime were used to send signals to other troops or to carry warriors to high sky that could fire down the enemy below. The most famous battle use Chinese kite was Chu-Han War in 203 - 202 BC. The General Zhang Liang ordered his solider to fly big kite which could carry a solider to sky in the foggy night. There were many kites used and his soldiers all singing the songs popular in enemy's hometown. The enemy troops were touched and all missing their home town. A troop without fighting courage was easily conquered. Xiang Yu, who has been wise and powerful for a long time, lose this war then took his own life away.

Invented in China since 2nd century, paper was also used in kite craftwork that time, then it got another name "paper glede)" and began to popular among common people. It was regarded art of work, and made by folk artisans from all over China. Chinese Kite was introduced to other parts of the world by Marco Polo in the 13th century, describing the blessing voyage and flying kite. He wrote that Chinese merchandises tied someone to a huge kite and launched it before sailing; if the kite went high and kept a good condition, which meant prosperous and quick shipping.

kite in bird's shapeSymbolic Meaning of Chinese Kite
Traditional Chinese kites features auspicious motifs. From long period ago, Chinese ancestors not only created beautiful painting on kites, but also created auspicious patterns meaning yearning and pursuit for a better life. Seeking Fu, health & longevity, happiness and lucks were the most common content s a kite mean. Dragonfly, swallow, dragon, butterfly, flowers, birds and other images all contain rich meanings. Tortoises, cranes and peaches signify long life, while a dragon design represents power and prosperity.

Today, kite flying can also be found around China in spring. It is a great family activity that children and parents have funs, but less people regard warding off evil spirits bringing good lucks.

Chinese Kite Making
Most Chinese kites are made with a 3-D bamboo frame with silk or paper covering. Even a young man can make a simple kite in China by taking several steps: binding, pasting, painting, and flying. These basic four skills are required for not only a huge kite but a miniature one.

Binding is to bind a bamboo frame by thin strips, make sure it be symmetry and support the kite balanceable. Pasting is to paste the paper or silk in neat and quick way. Then paint some pictures on the paper or silk in vivid. Flying the kite at open field at windy day and adjust the thread according to wind. While the basic procedure remains the same, styles of kite-making vary in different regions of the world.

paintings of flying kitesCommon Styles of Kites
Rigid Winged (paper or silk tightly stretched over rigid spars)

Soft Winged (flexible structures behind just one spar)

Flat Style

Centipede or Dragon (multiple flat sections stacked together plus a 'head)

Free Style (Combined features of other style)

Chinese Kite Cities
Kaifeng, Beijing, Tianjin, Weifang, Nantong and Yangjiang are said to be the traditional origins of Chinese kites. Among them, Weifang of Shangdong Province is called ""world kite capital", famous for the exquisite craftsman work, painting, well-balance fly of kites. Every late April, World Kites Festival is held annually at Weifang and draws many kite-fans. Thousand of kites from home and abroad were exhibited and flied into the high sky. In April of 1984, a huge kite of centipede with dragon head flied above the northern beach in Weifang. The kite, which was 320 meters long with a diameter of 1.2-meter in the middle and a head of 4-meter in height and 4-meter in length, was said to be the biggest one all over the country at that time.


Related Reading

Top China Tours