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flying kites

Flying Kites during Qingming

A grandfather teaches his grandson the finer points of flying a kite. On a relatively windless day, his was one of the few kites to fly with strength.

You can see more kites and the art of the kite on another of my pages called 99 Chinese Kites.

Kite flying is a traditional activity during Qingming season. There are many competitions and demonstrations organized during Qingming for this reason. This picture was taken at a new kite festival organized in the northeast suburbs of Beijing on the first day of Qingming. It wasn't very well attended, perhaps because it was new, perhaps because there was very little wind that day. The most famous festival is held a little later during Qingming in Weifang, Shandong Province. Weifang, Beijing, and Tianjin are all famous for kite making and design.

In the old days, people would fly kites for good luck. The kite would fly into the heavens and then you would free it by cutting the string so that it could take away the bad spirits and bring you good luck. Fortunately, that is no longer a custom. Today, losing a kite speaks of lack of skill, not good luck.

Kite flying is a year-round sport and I have even seen kites flying in the rain. A light shower, to be sure, but it did show determination. The kite was still up after 20 minutes when the sun reappeared, although the man flying it was a bit damp.

Last update: July 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009