Travel Stories

China: Go Fly a Kite

Kites: a wartime tool.

Dating back to nearly 300 BC, the first kite originated in China, fashioned by the creativity of a Chinese philosopher. After passing down the craft to an apprentice who improved the kite’s construction, the Chinese military took notice. Under the military’s adoption, kites gauged wind force, sent signals to troops, and even lifted soldiers above enemy troops for better arrow aim. Nearly 1,000 years passed, following the introduction of paper, before kites became more of a leisure activity rather than a wartime tool.

Originally just simple rectangles, kite design evolved as more and more Chinese adopted the hobby. Today’s kites feature complex, 3D shapes, most often decorated to honor religious and ceremonial holidays. Kite-making continues to flourish in China, particularly as the Chinese believe that kites ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.