People sometimes ask us where our kites are made, and sometimes suggest that being made in China is a bad thing. Far from it, we are very proud to say that all our kites are made in Weifang, China, the kite capital of the world. Weifang is believed to be the birthplace of kites. Weifang has a strong cultural link with kites, and has many artisans and kite makers throughout the city. They are passionate about kites and fly them in the city squares in the evenings after work. Each spring, in April, people from across the world gather in Weifang to fly kites to celebrate the Weifang International Kite Festival.
We have been working with our own supplier for many many years and have visited and met his family and his team. They love flying kites, and do so around the world. Their knowledge about these flying toys is unsurpassed and we are very proud to say that our kites come from the kite capital of the world.
The ancient philosopher Mo Zi is believed to have been the first kitemaker. The Chinese have a strong literary history and the pre-Qin (before 221 BCE) book recorded that 2,000 years ago, Mo Zi spent three years making a kite with wood, only for it to fail. Lu Ban, one of Mo’s pupils, replaced the wood with bamboo and managed to make a magpie-shaped kite which could fly for three days. It was recognized as a success; today, a bronze sculpture of Lu Ban, “The Father of Kites,” stands upright on the World Kite Capital Commemoration Square in Weifang.
Weifang – home to the world’s only kite museum
Weifang’s World Kite Capital Commemoration Square is a landmark built in 2006 and dotted with kite-related features. In front of the square stands a 28-meter sign from the International Kite Federation; 12 bronze mascots of past festivals and plaques explain the history and production of kites. The world’s only World Kite Museum sits in the south of the square.
A beautiful two-story building with a roof in the shape of Weifang’s representative dragon-headed centipede kite, the museum covers 12,000 square meters and 12 exhibition halls. Here you can see more than 1,000 kites of different styles and learn about their history and art of manufacturing. Inside historical kites are on display and artisan kite makers paint intricate hand made kites.
It was a pleasure to visit the museum and feel the passion for kites at Weifang, and to know that it is the best place in the world to buy kites from.
The International Kite Federation
Weifang is also the headquarters of the International Kite Federation which was established here in 1989 and the Secretariat is located in Weifang. The 26 member organisation has members including Russia, Holland, Germany, Malaysia, USA, Britain, Australia, Japan, France, Canada, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan plus more than 20 other countries and regions. It focuses on kite kite competitions, kite making, academic exchanges; enhancing exchanges and friendship between the Member States, ensuring the handing down of traditional technology in various countries of the kite and promoting the kite activities across the world.
Chinese kite history
Among their many uses, kites were deployed in war to deliver messages. Once gunpowder was invented, kites were occasionally weaponized. During the Song dynasty (960 – 1279), a detonator was flown over the enemy to explode. This primitive missile was called the “bombing-crow kite.”
The main function of kites, though, remained entertainment. After the Sui and Tang dynasties, paper kites flourished. In the Song dynasty, there were competitions, and flying kites on Tomb Sweeping Day became a folk custom. People would cut the string once their kite was high in the sky, believing that one’s illness and bad luck would fly away with it.
In the Qing dynasty (1616 – 1911), famous littérateur Cao Xueqin detailed how young nobles flew kites in his classic novel A Dream of Red Mansions, which gave insight into the popularity of the hobby in that era.
Zheng Banqiao, a famous painter in the Qing dynasty, described a scene of Weifang citizens flying kites in his poem “Memories of the Wei County”: “The paper flowers flying in the sky, just like countless snowflakes.”
World kite history
After its introduction into India, the kite further evolved into the fighter kite, known as the patang in India, where thousands are flown every year on festivals such as Makar Sankranti.
Kites were late to arrive in Europe, although windsock-like banners were known and used by the Romans. Although kites were initially regarded as mere curiosities, by the 18th and 19th centuries they were being used as vehicles for scientific research. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin published an account of a Kite experiment to prove that lightning was caused by electricity.
Kites were also instrumental in the research of the Wright Brothers, and others, as they developed the first airplane in the late 1800s. Several different designs of man lifting kites were developed. The period from 1860 to about 1910 became the European “golden age of kiting”.
In the 20th century, kites were used for scientific purposes, especially in meteorology, aeronautics, wireless communications and photography. World Word II saw a use of kites for military purposes (survival radio, Focke Achgelis Fa 330, military radio antenna kites).