Who Invented The Kite?

Probably Someone From Ancient Asia

Is it possible to know for sure who invented the kite? No it isn't, but most research points to the Asian region - many hundreds of years BC!

While researching other history pages on this site, I got the impression that China was the birth-place of the kite. However, on re-searching the Web, it seems that the kite idea might have been independently discovered in Malaysia as well.

From these 2 regions, kites spread first to the rest of Asia, then eventually to the rest of the world.

A small but authentic Chinese Dragon kite is a good example of how far Chinese kite-making skills developed. Such artistry and fine bamboo engineering!




Interestingly, a few specific names do turn up in ancient Chinese literature. Here's a few, each of whom might have felt that they were the one who invented the kite in China...

  • 5th Century B.C. Possibly the oldest reference to kite-making in literature. A master of joinery named Mu Zi developed a man-lifting kite over a period of 3 years. It was called the Wooden Black Eard Kite. Later, another master of joinery named Lu Ban made another kite to the same design.
  • 4th Century B.C. An engineer called Kungshu Phan created a wooden kite in the shape of a bird that flew continuously for three days.
  • 3rd Century B.C. General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty flew a kite over the walls of a city during a military campaign.

In addition to these facts gleaned from actual written records, there is also a traditional belief or legend regarding who invented the kite. The story goes that a farmer attached his hat to a string to prevent it blowing away one day, and it managed to lift off and fly for a while. Thus creating the first kite!





But What About Malaysia?

This country doesn't have the same extensive literary records as China, but experts believe that simple leaf kites might have been flown here even earlier than the first wooden and silk kites in China. A very simple concept, but one that apparently works. It's just a large leaf that happens to be the right shape and works nicely as a kite when correctly tethered to a line!

Later, simple fishing kites came into use through many islands near South East Asia and in the Pacific Ocean. These kites were made from leaves or bark, fastened to simple frames of twigs or reeds.




E-book special of the month (25% off)...


The
Sode is a traditional Japanese design, and this MBK version is exciting to watch in rough air!

If you have made Diamonds before, this kite takes a little more time to make. It's still a straight-forward build though, using the same techniques as used for my Dowel Diamond. 

Get the e-book for making the MBK Dowel Sode kite. The cambered sail makes this a very efficient design. Of the Dowel kites, this design is one of my personal favorites!

This Sode flies steep and steady over the Light wind range, and starts to move around quite a bit when the wind picks up to Moderate levels. Tail(s) are entirely optional, but may be added for looks.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.



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Comments

Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...



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Wind Speeds


Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7