Posts Tagged ‘Kite’


July 20th, 2006 No comments
Flower-basket kite made from juan-silk and bamboo in Weifang, Shangdong

Flower-basket kite made from juan-silk and bamboo in Weifang, Shangdong

Kite is one of the most typical Chinese folk toys. It incorporates into a whole appreciation, entertainment, competition, exercise, and is closely connected with folkways, festivals, science and technology, history, etc., fully revealing the rich content of folk toys. Flying kites often occurs on the occasion when people go for an outing around the Pure Brightness Day. In the past people used to write their own names on the kite when they were in distress of fell ill. As the kite was flying high above, they cut the string and let the kite fly away with the wind. In so doing they believed that their bad luck had gone with the kite.

The name of kite varied in different period of times. Some ancient book written in the pre-Qin period records that the thinker Mo-tzu and the master craftsman Gongshu Ban had both made something called “wooden hawk.” Later on it was said that the distinguished general Han Xin (?-196 B.C.) ever made “paper hawks” in the first years of Han Dynasty. According to more reliable source, the kite originated in the Northern and Southern Dynasties. It was named “paper crow” or “paper owl” at that time. The kite was not used as a toy but used in military affairs, correspondence, measurement, publicity, etc. It was after the Five Dynasties that the kite became popular and turned to be a means of entertainment. During the mid-Tang Dynasty, paper started to be more widely used in everyday life and gradually replaced other more expensive materials in making kite thanks to its low cost and easy working process.

By the Song Dynasty, kite-flying was popularized; kite-making became an occupation. Gradually the custom of flying kites at the Pure Brightness Festival was established. Scenes of flying-kite can be seen in both the famous painting Pure Brightness Day on the River by Zhang Zeduan, eminent artist of the Northern Song Dynasty and the picture One Hundred Sub-graphs by Su Hanchen.
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