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Invented by the Chinese people, Chinese kites have enjoyed a history of over 2,000 years. There is a Chinese kite hanging in the hall of the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C., US, accompanied by the inscription, 'The earliest aerocraft of human beings are the kites and rockets of China.'

As the birthplace of kites, China owns six traditional kite producing areas, including Beijing, Tianjin, Weifang (in Shandong Province), Nantong (in Jiangsu Province) and Yangjiang (in Guangdong Province), of which Weifang become 'kite capital' of the world in recent years.

As early as in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 BC – 221 BC), Mo Di, a famous ideologist, politician, militarist, public man and natural scientist, made a wooden bird after three years' research and development efforts. It is the earliest kite in China and in the world. The paper kite appeared in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220) after Cai Lun invented paper, and was renamed 'paper bird'. Later, sounders like bamboo flutes were added onto the kites. When flying in the sky, the kites would make sounds, so the name was changed to fengzheng (kite). ('Feng' means wind in Chinese and 'zheng' is a traditional national musical instrument.)

Originally, kites were used by the military to measure distance and wind directions, and to send messages. General Han Xin of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) used kites to measure the distance of the tunnel under the Weiyang Palace (northeast of downtown Xian today). Later, when Xiang Yu was embattled by Liu Bang's army in Gaixia (Lingbi County, Anhui Province today), Han Xin ordered his followers to make kites with cowskin, on which were fastened bamboo flutes. Matching the sound of the bamboo flutes, Xiang Yu's army sang military songs, which helped diminish the morale of Liu Bang's army. The Chinese idiom 'under attack from all sides' comes from that story. Additionally, Emperor Liangwu of the Southern Dynasty tried to use kites to send messages, although he failed.

In the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), kites were gradually used for entertainment. Kites were used to take exercise, and flying kites on the Festival of Pure Brightness became a folk custom in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). In the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), kites were reused by the military to hold dynamite. Since the Qing Dynasty(1644 - 1911), kites have been a kind of folk game for people's recreation.

 Kites Making
Kites were initially made to memorialize the departed, so Chinese people fly kites on the Festival of Pure Brightness, hoping that the kites will send their feelings to their ancestors and old friends. Some Chinese even believe that kites will carry away inauspicious things, so the kites are made in the shapes of many auspicious animals, figures and objects such as fish, phoenix, crane, butterfly, dragonfly, peri, the God of Longevity, the Eight Diagrams, fan and so on.

To make a kite, you must first choose the design, and then you have to prepare bamboo strips, paper, cotton, plastic or vitreous lines, knives and paste. When everything is ready, first enlace the frame of the kite with the bamboo strips, and then paste the paper onto the frame. Finally, draw some colorful patterns on the paper, if you like. Thus, a kite is created. During the process, pasting tails for the kites may be the most important step, because if the tails are not pasted correctly and properly, the kites will not fly. Seemingly simple, kite making in fact does require fine skills.

 Kites Flying
On a sunny and windy spring day, flying kites at a beach, a square or any other spacious place in the open air with your family, will be wonderful experience. At the same time, you can breathe fresh air, train your body, mold your temperament, and improve your health through this activity.

Prepare several different sized kites in case the wind changes, and make sure that the lines used to fly kites are durable enough. Operating kites also requires skills and experience: You have to practice; you have to choose proper wind direction, running speed and releasing opportunity in order to avoid hazards such as electric wires, high trees, other kites, etc.; and you must learn how to send and withdraw the lines according to changing wind forces.

At the end of kite flying season, you can keep the kites for next year's use if they are still safe and sound, or for instance, they can be hung on the wall of your house as beautiful decorations.