Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chinese Kite

One of my favorite day trips was to the International Kite Festival in Weifang, an hour train ride west of Jinan on a windy April day. I learned about this festival from Cookie's oral English presentation.  Kite flying is a ubiquitous hobby among older men who sit on tiny stools in the crowded square controlling high-flying kites with ease. This always mystified me because I'd always assumed one needed an open field with lots of room to run and launch a kite. Not in China. They just lift the kite into the wind and away she flies.   Our May 19 2013 China Talk post is full of photos from our trip to the festival in Weifang and shows the 3 interesting kite contests. We found it was truly an "international" festival where we met fascinating kite hobbyists from all over the world.   Here is what Cookie taught us about the Chinese kite:

        "Kite is a symbol of the Chinese handicraft. Flying a kite is a very popular activity in all generations in China. Flying a kite is a very popular activity in all generations in China. It is easy to find the scene that when in the holidays, there are large numbers of people gathering to the squares and holding lines to control beautiful kites in the blue sky. 
soft wings
     "Chinese invested the first kite.
     "In ancient time, kite was called sparrow hawk and was also well known as glede in northern region of China.
hard - wings
     "In the Spring and Autumn Period in China, there was a philosopher named 'Mo Qu' in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. He spent three years making a wooden glede that could fly in the air. He flied his wooden kite in Shandong Province of China, but it crashed just in one day. That wooden glede was the first kite in China and also same in the world. It's over two thousand and four hundred years ago.
dragon - head centipede kite
     "According to an ancient book, in the period of Five Dynasties in China, Li Zheng made a kite in imperial palace. A bamboo whistle was tied to a paper kite. It made sound like Zheng while wind passed through.  Since then, kites that could not give out sound were called paper glede, others were called Feng Zheng.

     "Tang Dynasty poet Gao Pian had written a poem named Kite:
Strings sound the blue sky in a silent night,
Wind brings tunes coming right;
Vaguely resembles a melody to listen,
Also it mists into breeze might.
     "In Tang Dynaster, kite was introduced to CHinese neighboring countries like Korea and Japan. In 13th century, an Italian explorer, Marco Polo, introduced kite to Europe, and  since then, kite was introduced to all over the world.

     "In ancient time, kite was used for military purpose initially, like measuring and three-dimensional forms. Graphic designs are based on individual interests, with silk, paper, and also can be made by plastic materials.
     "Weifang city in Shandong province China is the kite capital of the world. It has the largest kite museum in the world covering an area of 8,100 square feet.The design of the museum resembles the famous Weifang local dragon-head centipede kite. 
     "In a word, through history of the kite's development, Chinese traditional culture is integrated with kite craft. Chinese fairy tales, folk art and luck characters have been used for kite designs."

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