Sending up a spring kite

Flying a kite was once a “traditional ceremony” to greet each spring in the capital. Old residents may still remember the colorful kites in Changdian and one exquisite kite named “Shayaner.”fly a kite in Spring time is the best way to shake hands with the wind, relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Spring is a time to fly a kite. Get to know some basics about kites before sending them up.

Tracing history

The first known kite entered the skies in fourth century BC. Made entirely of wood and fashioned like an eagle, the kite was constructed by the Confucian philosopher and hermit Mo Zi, who lived on Mount Lu in modern-day Shandong Province.

Kites developed during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and were designed as tools of war for reconnaissance, relaying information and measuring distance. Some kites actually carried bundles of gunpowder.

By Tang Dynasty (618-907), kites left the hands of generals and entered the hands of well-to-do children. Kites soon became associated with the Tomb Sweeping Festival. While the festival traditionally focused on the sweeping of ancestral tombs and the offering of money and food to the dead, it also celebrated the coming of spring. The festival, still celebrated today, occurs in the first week of April ?perfect for kite enthusiasts.

Types of Kites

There are three types of traditional kites commonly flown in China. The first type is the hard-wing kite, because the wings are reinforced on both the front and the back, forming a stiff wing capable of flying at high altitudes. These kites often take the shapes of swallows, eagles or other birds.

The second type is the soft-wing. It is not reinforced and flutters freely in the wind. Typical shapes include butterflies, dragonflies and fish. All similarities end once the kites are in the air, however.

The third type of kite is the dragon or centipede kite, which has a long body composed of dozens of segments connected by strands of twine. Unlike the two other kites, getting the dragon kite in the air requires special skill. This is because the most decorated part of the kite, the dragon head, doesn’t aid in its flight ╥t’s purely ornamental. The kite is flown segment-by-segment, tail first, and only after the entire body is in flight is te dragon head attached.