Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who Invented Kites and Where Were They Invented?

Who invented the kite? And when were they invented? For the answer to those questions we have to dig far back in history, because people have been flying kites for thousands of years. A kite floating far above the earth seems to be such a simple thing. But if you stop to ponder its ancient lineage, the kite appears much more majestic.

Both China and Malaysia can legitimately claim honors as the kite's birthplace. There is evidence of kite flying as far back as the sixth century BC. China has written records of kite flying dating from 559 BC. Kites have been a part of Malaysian culture for millennia. It is an entirely credible possibility that kites were invented independently in both countries.

In China two philosophers, Mozi and Lu Pan, are generally given credit for having invented the kite. These two brilliant men were contemporaries, and they had access to all the materials necessary for successful kite building. The silk making process by this time had been perfected. Silk fabric and thread have the properties of being strong, light in weight and impervious to moisture. These qualities make silk an ideal material for both the sail and the kite line. Bamboo grows abundantly in China, and is a superlative framework component. Mozi was a trained engineer who had wide experience constructing bird models and weapons of war. Lu Pan was a skilled carpenter who designed and built many things from wood, including model birds. One of his bird models was reputed to have been held aloft by compliant winds for three consecutive days.

Documentation of kite flying in Malaysia is scanty, but there is a very long tradition of it there. Materials available to the Malaysians were large tree leaves and bamboo. It is easy to imagine that leaves blowing in the wind created the inspiration for the invention of the first kite. Leaf kites are still flown in Malaysia, some of them are very elaborately designed.

So when were kite invented and who invented them? The answer to that question may never be definitely known, but China and Malaysia are the two best candidates for where, and Mozi and Lu Pan seem to have the best resumes to qualify for who invented them. But we do know that kite flying originated in one of these two countries and from there spread to the rest of the world.

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