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.
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
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
- 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.
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)