March is a very windy month and to me that means one thing…kite flying! Kites have a long and interesting history. They are thought to have been invented in China. Kites first appeared in the wars of the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC). In the beginning they were used for military purposes, reconnaissance and distance measurement, if you can believe it. They were first made from silk, but later people began to use paper as well.
Eventually people began to fly kites just for the sheer pleasure of it, enjoying fresh air and sunshine. Kites became more and more ornate and beautiful as time passed. Weifang in the Shandong Province is the self-proclaimed ‘World Kite Capital’. The kites made there are known for their exquisite craftsmanship, materials, painting, sculpture and flexible flying movement. They come in a variety of sizes and forms such as dragons, eagles and butterflies. The city even has its very own kite museum.
The art of kite making has been passed down from generation to generation in China, but unfortunately is now a dying art form. The younger generations are not interested in the traditions of their fathers. The artisans who still craft traditional kites are growing older and finding it difficult to find apprentices to whom to pass on their wealth of knowledge. There are still some who continue to teach children and teens the art of kite making in the hopes that at least a small number will follow in their elder’s footsteps and keep this amazing craft alive.
Have you ever made your own kite? Try it and see what happens.
How to make Chinese Kites: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Chinese-Kites