• Have enough kite pins, patches, caps, and festival tee-shirts to last a lifetime? Well, China has other kite collectibles well worth considering. New Year’s woodblock prints with kite motif are inexpensive and often beautiful. They are a 300-year-old tradition. Kite postage stamps are another option as are low denomination coins with a kite theme. Mass-produced but quite elegant and inexpensive miniature kites are a fourth. Inexpensive and unusual are traditional paper cutouts of kites and people flying them.
  • Chan Fo Kwong, of Hong Kong, has organized several associations of which he is the chairman. They are devoted to chess; the lute; Bor-Yea Buddhism; antique watches and clocks; calligraphy and painting; pot plants and gardening; research on antiques; and, most charmingly, the Hong Kong International Deserving Genius Association. Not a one has a single member other than Chan. “I feel upset whenever I think about it,” he says.
  • Ha Yi Qi of Beijing has a peculiarly Chinese dilemma. A fourth generation kitemaker, Ha (profiled in Journal issue No. 12) by tradition is expected to pass on his flourishing gift-item factory business to a direct descendent. But because of the one-child rule in modern day China, and because his one child is a daughter, and because women by tradition don’t run big businesses like Ha’s works which employs 100 people, he has a dilemma.
  • In a sport which in the West seems often to be largely dominated by men, kiting in China presents another face: A majority of men, yes, but lots of women too----in participant, administrative, and support roles. Here’s a look at some of the fair sex in action during a spate of kite festivals and celebrations in China in the spring of 2004. Hostesses:
  • With the microminiature kites Leng Shi Xiang, of Beijing, makes, seeing is believing. Some are half the size of a housefly. The kites are so tiny a viewer without Leng’s amazing eyesight needs to use a loup to really see and appreciate their detail. Made of bamboo and silk, they take him days to make, he says, and a half day just to bridle. “The hardest thing is to saturate the silk,” he says. Flying line is a single fiber extracted from a nylon cloth. All of his creations fly, he says.
  • As one of China’s leading kitemakers as well as being a direct descendant of the philosopher Confucius (551-479 B.C.), Kong Xiang Ze was a marked man during the Cultural Revolution which swept his country in l966-76. Mao had instructed the young Red Guards to destroy the “old”-----traditions, objects, human exemplars of Chinese culture. Kong thus became the perfect target. “I was beaten up seven times by Red Guards,” the 84-year-old says. “My property was trashed.”
  • What is going on? When Rick Miller, of Silver City, New Mexico, flies a light-colored, 15-inch Chinese swallow kite at twilight he bought from master Chinese builder Chen Zhao Ji, he draws literally two dozen cliff swallows. They fly around the kite twittering and apparently feeding on insects. They do not attack the kite. The noise and motion of the live birds attract strollers who stand and watch. When Rick takes the kite down, the birds disperse. Now the puzzle. Rick bought another type of swallow kite from Mr. Chen, this one smaller and with black wings.
  • Small, boyish-looking, ever-smiling, Ha Yi Qi (pronounced Ha Eechee), of Beijing, hardly presents as a tycoon, but that is exactly what the renowned kitemaker is. A fourth generation craftsman, “Mr. Ha,” as he is widely known in the West, runs a factory employing well over 100 people and brings in serious money to his country from his exports to a dozen countries, mainly the U.S. and Japan. He travels widely and finds obtaining an exit visa from his country much easier than most, a tribute to his economic contribution.
  • Angela Wu, who owns her own small public relations firm in Taipei, became interested in kites when she was hired by a tourism group to promote a kite event. Fascinated by the sport and appreciating a business link for the future, she immersed herself in kiting to the extent she found herself in Jakarta in 2000 attending the annual festival there.