Who said pigs couldn’t fly?

The 14th January is International Kite 🪁 Day, and so that aroused my curiosity. For some countries, kite flying is an integral part of the culture and even a national sport. But what are the origins of this activity that paints the sky in a bright rainbow 🌈of colours?

Though there have been many adaptations by various cultures around the world, kites are believed to have originated in China. In ancient times, the kite was made of simple materials such as wood and cloth. They were originally invented for military purposes for providing intelligence to military forces. The first Chinese kites were used for measuring distances, which was useful information for moving large armies across difficult terrain. They were also used to calculate and record wind readings and provided a unique form of communication similar to ship flags at sea. 

The kites were exclusive to China for many years before the knowledge of how to make and use them advanced. It will be thanks to Marco Polo’s travel that the item will fly across the continents to the rest of the world. Indeed, when he returned to Italy, Marco Polo brought with him a Chinese kite, and soon, thanks to the Silk Road, the Chinese kite became known throughout Europe, and from Europe, it would of course travel to the New World, the Americas. 

So today, where can we witness the soaring of this ancient relic? 

China

The city of Weifang known as THE kite 🪁 capital of the world. It is home to the International Kite Association, and holds the Weifang International Kite Festival in April each year. Each year tourists flock just to watch this majestic and colorful spectacle of kite flying competitions. The climax of the festival is the crowning of the annual “Kite King”. Weifang also has a museum dedicated to the history of the kite.

India

The kite flying festival in India falls on 14th of January every year, coinciding with Makara Sankranti, a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms. It is a major harvest festival. Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara Rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. In addition to being a harvest celebration it is also considered to be the start of an auspicious period in Indian culture, ideal for important events.

Be it the festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or a celebration of Indian independence, both are synonymous with kite flying. Kites are believed to have come to India with Buddhist missionaries from the East through the Silk Route, following which they travelled to distant lands such as Arabia and Europe. The state Gujarat has been, for long, associated with kite flying and houses the Patang Kite Museum.

France

In 1888 in the Tarn, Arthur Batut decided to take an aerial photo even before the invention of the airplane. He decides to use a kite. A new technique was born. The first aerial photograph of the beach of Berck-sur-Mer will be taken three years later by Emile Wenz, followed by numerous aerial photographers📷. Since then, photographers from a Belgian kite-flying club have gathered every year on the beach at Berck-sur-Mer to commemorate Arthur Batut’s invention. 

In 1987, they asked the mayor of Berck at the time, Claude Wilquin, for permission to organize a celebration of the Centenary of this discovery. The Kite Meetings were born. On April 4, 1987, the first edition of the Rencontres Internationales de Cerfs-Volants was launched. Every spring since 1987, hundreds of flying objects in shimmering colors invade the sky of Berk-sur-Mer for nine days. 

Berlin

The Berlin Templehof Kite Festival takes place in Tempelhof Flughafen at the end of summer in September. So what makes it so special you may wonder? Well it will have to be the location: the former Berlin Airport 🛦complex which is now a protected Historic Site and the runway area open as a public park.It’s not just big, it’s HUGE! Indeed the former airport building is the largest monument of Europe, which stands for the monumental self-staging of the Nazis, and has become a symbol of freedom. The airlift of 1948/49 and flight of many thousand people from the Soviet sector or GDR made Airport Tempelhof an international symbol of defence of freedom ☮ during the Cold War.  In 2011, the building received the distinction: The Symbol of symbol of Engineering Architecture.

Ready to see pigs fly? 

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