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Click to enlargeChinese Kites

The birthplace of kites is China. Dating back to very ancient times, Chinese kites have had a widespread renown for their colorful shapes, various types, unique styles and distinguishing features.

Chinese kites have a recorded history of over 2500 years. Generally speaking, the development and evolution of Chinese kites have passed four stages: The first stage (from Spring-Autumn period to Eastern Han) marked the appearing of wooden hawk and its development to paper hawk. With the development of Chinese silk industry and the rising of papermaking from linens in Western Han, kites were evolved from wooden hawk to paper hawk. The second stage came when paper hawk and paper sparrow hawk prevailed from Eastern Han to Sui Dynasty and Five Dynasties. The third stage of the development and evolution of Chinese kites lasted over 800 years from Five Dynasties to the mid-Ming Dynasty. This period featured the emerging of the appellation of kite, its co-existence with paper hawk as well as the increasing development of kites and prevailing of kite-flying. During this period the title paper hawk still held a dominating position. The title kite was first used in Five Dynasties. It was recorded that in Five Dynasties a person named Li Ye used to make paper hawks and fly them in the imperial court. Once he decorated a little bamboo whistle with the head of a paper hawk so that it let out the sound of the traditional Chinese zither as wind went through it. So wind zither or Feng Zheng (Chinese version for kites) became the equivalent of paper hawk. From the end of the Qing Dynasty to the present is the fourth stage of the development of Chinese kites. During this period, kite gradually took the place of all titles and became in common use. The custom of kite-flying became a more common practice than ever before.

To look at traditional Chinese culture as a whole, it is easy to see that naturally people of past ages cherished some kind of dreams, whatever they were, and tended to tie them to the long string, in other words, to use kites, the simplest work of art as a means of direct expression of their wishes. In that way, man's wishes seemed to have been given wings and embosomed through kites so that man might get mentally free from any restraint. Therefore the shape of traditional Chinese kites were closely related to traditional Chinese culture, which finds full expression in may aspects.

Dragon is an imaginary animal in ancient Chinese legends. It decided when it rained. In the myth of remote ages, the image of Yellow Emperor was linked to dragon. That's why the Chinese people are called the dragon race, or later generations of the dragon. The worship for dragon created culture about dragon, and then kites emerged with dragon as the main subject.

Phoenix is also an imaginary animal, and regarded as a symbol of good luck and virtue. So it was undoubtedly logical that kites made with phoenix as the subject matter came into being as requested.

For the similar reason, people made kites whose contents were based on spirits, ghosts, fairy stories and folklores. None of these kites was not associated with belief and folk culture. Thus it can be concluded that Chinese kites have a close relationship with traditional Chinese culture, which has produced a considerable significance on the creation and development of the former.

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