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Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held on the fourth Sunday every
May in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan.Kite flying is the hobby of
flying kites. A kite is an object that flies by opposing the
force of the wind with the tension of a string held by the
operator. See types of kites, below, for a list of different
types and styles.
Those flown by American children are often shaped like a
geometric kite. Kite flying is very popular in China,Japan,
India, and many other countries. In those countries, Thailand,
and some other countries 'kite fights' are held, in which
many people gather and fly kites and try to snag each other's
kites or cut the other kite down. In Afghanistan this is known
as "Gudiparan Bazi." Some kite "fighters"
pass the string through a solution of ground glass powder
and glue. The resulting strings are abrasive and able to sever
the competitor's kites. Such practice is dangerous since the
abrasive strings can catch on people.
Kite flying traces its roots back to early China, and the
development of paper. Chinese kite designs particularly tend
to emulate flying insects, birds, and other beasts, real and
mythical. The finest modern Chinese kites are made from split
bamboo (usually golden bamboo), covered with silk and hand
painted to form an overall artistic statement within a tradition
of long standing. For larger kites, clever hinges and latches
allow the kite to be disassembled and compactly folded for
storage or transport. Lower cost kites in quantity production
may be made from printed polyester, which will have longer
useful life if frequently flown.
Kite flying depends on lightweight, but strong twine. It
also depends on the ability to produce paper or tightly woven
cloth. Kites typically consist a one or more spars (sticks),
that hold a sail of fabric taut. Classic kites use bamboo,
rattan or other strong but flexible wood for the spars, and
paper or light fabrics such as silk for the sails. Modern
kites are made with synthetic materials: nylon or more exotic
fabrics for the sails, and fiberglass or carbon fiber spars.
Kites are designed with different shapes, forms and sizes,
from historic flat geometric designs, through box kits and
other aerodynamic forms, to modern sparless inflatable designs.:
These kites are shaped like an octopus and squid and are more
than 40 feet long.
These kites are about 50 feet long each. The rainbow color
wind sock near the bottom of the picture spins like a turbine.
Modern acrobatic kites use more than one line to allow fine
control in the kite's angle to the wind. In recent years,
multi-line kite flying has developed into a sport, with competitions
for precision flying and artistic interpretation of music.
Kite festivals are held where kites from around the world
are displayed in the sky. The above picture was a Chinese
dragon kite over a hundred feet long which flew in the annual
Berkeley, CA kite fest in 2000.
Kites have been used militarily in the past, both for observation
by lifting an observer above the field of battle, and for
delivery of munitions. They have also been used for scientific
purposes, for example Benjamin Franklin's famous (but very
dangerous) electrical experiment. Kites are the precursors
to aircraft, and were instrumental in the development of early
flying craft. Alexander Graham Bell experimented with very
large man-carrying kites.
The Indian festival of Makar Sankranti is purely devoted
to kite flying. This spring festival is celebrated on 14 January
(15 January on leap years) with millions flying kites all
over India. The festival is a public holiday in the state