16 June 2009- the day everyone flies a kite!
Everyone loves to fly a kite, and they do so all over the world. In India and Pakistan there is a great tradition of fighting kites- where the object is to saw through your opponent’s kite line.
In China there are dragon kites and in Japan they fly giant kites with many many strings. Below is a brief history of kites courtesy of wikipedia.
The kite was first invented and popularized approximately 2,800 years ago in China, where materials ideal for kite building were readily available: silk fabric for sail material, fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line, and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework. Alternatively, kite author Clive Hart and kite expert Tal Streeter hold that kites existed far before that time. The kite was said to be the invention of the famous 5th century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban. By at least 549 AD paper kites were being flown, as it was recorded in that year a paper kite was used as a message for a rescue mission. Ancient and medieval Chinese sources list other uses of kites for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, signaling, and communication for military operations. The earliest known Chinese kites were flat (not bowed) and often rectangular. Later, tailless kites incorporated a stabilizing bowline. Kites were decorated with mythological motifs and legendary figures; some were fitted with strings and whistles to make musical sounds while flying.
After its appearance in China, the kite migrated to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), India, Arabia, and North Africa, then farther south into the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the islands of Oceania as far east as Easter Island. Since kites made of leaves have been flown in Malaya and the South Seas from time immemorial, the kite could also have been invented independently in that region.
One ancient design, the fighter kite, became popular throughout Asia. Most variations, including the fighter kites of India, Thailand and Japan, are small, flat, rough, diamond-shaped kites made of paper, with a tapered bamboo spine and a balanced bow. Although the rules of kite fighting varied from country to country, the basic strategy was to maneuver the swift kite in such a way as to cut the opponent's flying line..
Kite flying began much later in Europe than in Asia. While unambiguous drawings of kites first appeared in print in the Netherlands and England in the 17th century, pennon-type kites that evolved from military banners dating back to Roman times and earlier were flown during the Middle Ages. Joseph Needham says that the earliest European description of a kite comes from the Magia Naturalis written in 1589 by the Italian polymath Giambattista della Porta (1535–1615).