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Mr. Tony Lee
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THE ORIGIN OF KITES


Kites were once called Zhiyuan in North China and Yaozi in South China. The name "Fengzheng" came into use during the Five Dynasties (907-960 AD). According to the book, Xun Chulu by Lang Ying of the Ming Dynasty, Li Ye, who lived in the Five Dynasties, used to make and fly kites in the imperial court. He once attached a whistle made of bamboo to the upper part of his kite so that a "Zheng" sound was let out when the kite was flying. This was the how the Chinese name for kite originated.

How the kite was invented? It was thought that it our ancestors who were inspired by either wind blowing bamboo hat or leaves of trees; or sailers or tents; or a flying bird. There are so many contraditory views that it is difficult to decide which is right. But it is universally acknowledged that the first kite fles into the air from China. Mo Di (468-376 BC), a famous philosopher of ancient China once lived on Mount Lu (now the southeast of Qingzhou, Weifang), where he made an eagle with wood in three years. He managed to fly it for one day. This was the earliest kite in the world, which went back as far as 2,300 years ago. Later, he passd on his skill to his student, Gongshu Ban (later refered to as Lu Ban). On basis of Mo Di's, Gongshu Ban got his own improved. He made a magpie our of bamboo, which flew into the air for as long as three days. Gongshu Ban also used his kite to undertake reconnaissance missions. Early Chinese kites were employed to relay information, to servey the force and direction of wind as well. According to the book Du Yi Zhi, Emperor Wu Di of Liang Dynasty, was encirclded by Hou Jing, a traitor in Taicheng, Nanjing in 549 A.D. Jian Nu put forth a plan to fly a paper kite, in which an imperial edict was hidden , asking for reinforcement. The kite was unfortunately shot down by the encircling soldiers. Thus the plan was failed.

Kites came into existence in China as means of amusement probably in the Tang Dynasty. It was said that Empror Xuan Zong (his real name was Li Longji) once enjoyed watching a kite called "Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea" flying in the air in Yichun Courtyard, Penglai Palace, Shandong province. The book Xuan He Feng Zheng Pu refers to similiar events which Chinese emperors and artistocrats enjoyed and watched kites flying. Later, due to the invention of paper, making kites cost less, thus made it possible to spread quickly among the ordinary people. As time went on, kites flew to various countries of the world.

The famous British scientist, Dr. Needham in his book A History of China's Science and Technology describes kites as one of the major scientific inventions spread to Europe by China.A foreign kite specialist said, "It is universally acknowdged that it was the Chinese who invented the kite 2,000 years ago. kite aroused man' idea to fly in the sky, which led to the invention of the first airplane of the world."