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.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Super Light And Variable In Victoria Park

    Sep 21, 14 09:44 PM

    Victoria Park adjacent to the Adelaide CBD in South Australia, that is. This large grassed area which forms part of the eastern parklands of the city is used for various events from time to time. Including, in the past, major horse racing and a section of a Formula 1 Grand Prix track.

    An invite had gone out to various kite enthusiasts to meet and fly, since the weather looked good. We arrived after lunch, only to discover very light winds. A lone R/C flier was enjoying the easy conditions with his 3-channel electric trainer. Like a tiny Cessna, if you're not familiar with model aircraft.

    For a while it seemed we were alone, before spotting a power kite in the distance, making brief forays into the air. Victoria Park is rather large!

    It actually turned out to be quite an enjoyable outing, with the 2.4m (8ft) Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite just scraping into the air. But then, thermals were everywhere. It wasn't long before the large pale blue kite went right overhead! At other times, I simply toyed with the Barn Door, floating it way out on a long line then pulling it up to over 200 feet.

    Another RC flier was now having success launching his glider, finding thermals, and gaining height in them.

    We were eventually joined by two other AKFA members including the President. A couple of ripstop-and-carbon light-wind kites went up, with plenty of success. By now the breeze had come across the park from just about every point of the compass. Variable indeed!

    In the distance, someone had been lofting a large but light-wind parafoil. It was interesting to see it sink out as an utter 'bag of washing' during a dead calm spell! Someone else had some success with a small blue Delta for a while.

    All up, a worthwhile day IF you were flying lightly-loaded kites! No luck for Mike with his power kite and skateboard...

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. Usually, photos and/or video from the day are posted a few days later on the MBK Facebook Page. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More





New! Comments

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