Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

Medievl-Kites-bib - 11/2/02


"Medieval Kite Bibliography" by Archer MacRobert.


NOTE: See also the files: medievl-kites-art, paper-msg, toys-msg, Toys-in-th-MA-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Medieval Kite Bibliography

by Archer MacRobert


        Kites far pre-date the period that we study, 600 to 1600 AD. They most  probably were invented in China. There are clear stories of their use as early as 202 BC and some references put their invention back as early as 475 BC.


        The interchange of East meets West certainly brought references of kites to Europe. Possibly the earliest, clear reference was in 1282 (a reference from  Marco PoloÕs Z manuscript) though there are others.


Those references include:

- an unfinished manuscript dated from 1326, an Austrian codex from around 1430 (showing what is commonly called today a Thai cobra kite), and in late period (1558) of "Natural Magic," in which a clearly far Eastern-design kite is described by della Porta.


        In Calontir, I have taught several classes at our university on kites, history and making them. Kites that I have made include a 45-foot long Chinese centipede, herons (both six-foot and 10-inch wing spans), Chinese falcon (12-inch wing span), Korean fighter kites, Japanese rectangle-style kites (horizontal and vertical), Japanese octagon, and an escutcheon-shaped style kite.


        Others have written in the SCA on kites, including at least three Tournaments Illuminated articles since the 1970s. IÕve gotten my hands on one of them, and one written recently, was "Kites and Knights" (May 1997 in The Phoenix). [See the medievl-kites-art file in the Florilegium - Stefan] I would like to get in touch with the authors of earlier SCA works on kites, or anyone else involved with or interested in kites.


        There are lots of resources available, some on history and others for the would-be kite maker. My search has found materials detailing use of kites in time of war, religious activities, weather forecasting, entertainment, and fighting.


        Sources IÕve found (including a VHS tape) have detailed period kites in the Far East, including China, Korea, Japan, Thailand (formerly Siam), Malay, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. IÕve found a source that may lead to a listing of period kites in Cambodia but more research is called for. There are literally thousands of useful web pages out there.


        Many of the written sources on history in turn point back to the definitive source of kite history, "Kites, an historical survey" by Clive Hart. 1967, 1982, LC 81-1252. ItÕs worth finding the later editions because Hart rewrote the chapter on European kites in the middle ages. Hart also has a theory that kites evolved in Europe from the Dacian, and later Roman battle standards called Draco, or dragons. HeÕs persuasive and it makes some sense, including references to the Bayeaux Tapestry and earlier European works.


        Here is a partial list of sources I have, or excerpts of them. There are a bunch of period sources that are listed in Hart’s book (they're listed here, too).


"KiteLines" magazine

Spring 1999, Vol 13, No. 1

Winter 1997, Vol. 12, No. 4

Spring-Summer 1997, Vol. 12, No. 3

Winter 1999-2000, Vol. 13, No. 2.


"Aramco World" September/October 1999 "The Singing Kites of Kelantan," p. 2.


"Kites and Kite Flying" Ambrose Lloyd & Nicolette Thomas 1987 Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, ISBN 0-600-35337-0. (some history, good pictures on construction, flying)


"Kites" Wayne Hoskins, 1992 Mallard Press, ISBN 0-7924-5826-5. (some history, good pictures on construction, flying)


"Kites, paper wings over Japan" ed. Scott Skinner & Ali Fujino 1997, 0-500-2792-x. (excellent book on Japanese kites, history and pictures, recently went out of print but is still available)


"China Kites" Liu Zhen, ISBN 1-55521-376-6 first edition. (itÕs very stilted English but an excellent book on kinds of kites, construction and history)


"Kiteworks, explorations in kite building and flying" Maxwell Eden 1989. 8-08069-6713-7. (good work on sewing instead of paper products)


"Making and Flying Kites, traditional and modern designs" Wolfgang Schimmelpfennig 1988. ISBN 1-55521-376-6. (good pictures, good construction information and some neat stuff on Far Eastern kites)


"Fighter Kites, 29 original designs to make and fly" Phillipe Gallot 1989. 0-312-03964-6. (mostly modern kites, but based on period fighter kites; it is an excellent how-to book)


"Kite Flight, complete easy-to-follow instructions for making 40 kites" Jack Botermans & Alice Weve ISBN 0-03-008518-7. (good information, especially on construction, and pictures)


"The Fighter Kite Book!" by David Gomberg 1992. (self-published, good drawings and explanation of kite fighting)


"The Complete Book of Kites and Kite Flying,” Will Yolen, 1976. ISBN 0-671-22191-4. (good book by a former journalist and the then world champion kite flier)


"Easy to make Decorative Kites, step by step instructions for nine models from around the world" Alan & Gill Bridgewater 1985 ISBN 0-486-24981-6. (good how-to book)


"Flying Kites in Fun, Art and War" James Wagenvoord 1968, LC 68-31281. (some good history, light on sources, as many books are)


"Kites" Ron Moulton 1978 ISBN 0-7207-0829-x (good book by the founder of the British Kite Association)


"A kite journey through India" Tal Streeter 1996 ISBN 0-8348-0301. (excellent book on Indian kites, pictures and philosophy of Indians on kites)


"Kite Craft" Lee Scott Newman & Jay Hartley Newman 1974 LC73-91154. (excellent how-to, history and pictures)


"The Art of the Japanese Kite" Tal Streeter, ISBN 0-8348-0157-4.(excellent)


"Korean Games, with notes on the corresponding games of China and Japan" Stewart Culin ISBN 0-486-26593-5. (good back ground)


"The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Making and Flying Kites" Edward F. Dolan Jr. 1977 ISBN 0-385-04937-4 (good kid’s book with plans)


"Chinese Kites" Wang Hongxun © 1989 ISBN 7-119-00093-4. (good book, pictures and history from China)


"The Kite Building and Kite Flying Handbook with 42 Kite Plans" Jack Wiley 1984 TAB Books ISBN 0-8306-1669-1. (decent plans book)


"The Penguin Book of Kites" David Pelham 1976. (excellent book, recently reprinted, history, plans and more)


"25 Kites that Fly" Leslie Hunt ISBN 0-486-22550-x. (good reprint of how to do things)


"Art of Japanese Paper: Masks, Lanterns, Kites, Dolls" by Dominique Buisson, Elizabeth McDonald (translator) pub. 1999.


"Survey of Korean Kites" Sang-su Choe, Korean Information Service, 1958 (very good, hard to get, saw it through interlibrary loan from Brigham Young University Asian Collection)


"Chinese Artistic Kites" by Ha Kuiming and Ha Yiqi, photos by Wang Xu, translated by Ralph Kiggell, LCN 89-60883 (excellent how-to, some history, many of the kites are period)


"Science and Civilisation in China" vol. 4, pt 2, edited by Joseph Needham, Cambridge 1965, pp 568-602


"The Genius of China, 3,000 years of science, discovery and invention" by Robert Temple, Simon and Schuster, ©1986 LC 86-15620, pp 173-179 on kites in China and manned kite flight in China


"Cerfs Volants Traditionnels De Combat A Travers Le Monde" by Karine Boitrelle et Ludovic Petit and Ludovic Petit, (in French but readable. Has many traditional styles that are period)


"Japanese Kites, Concepts and Construction" by Dan Kurahashi, self-published (excellent how-to, very good at explaining why things are done with Japanese kites)


These are period sources listed by Hart:


"De nobilitatibus, sapientiis, et prudentiis regum," Walter de Milemete. (Dates from 1326) Ed. M.R. James, London, 1913, pp. 154-155.


"Bellifortis" by Konrad Kyeser, ca. 1405. Niedersachsische Staats und Universitatsbibliothek, Gottingen, Codes 63, ff. 104v., 105r. Manuscript at Austrian National Library, dated ca. 1430 is description of a 'pennon-kite' or serpent (dragon)


Fireworks manual by Johann Schmidlap, 1560, mentions use of kites.


"Natural Magick," Chapter X, 'Of some mechanical experiments, the flying dragon, or the comet' by Giovanni della Porta, pub. 1558, translated to English 1658.


"Rust und Feuerwerksbuch" ca. 1490, Stadt un Universitatsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, f.104r.


"Kunstliche und rechtschaffene feuerwerck zum schimpff" Numberg, 1608, p. 4 (written 1560)


"De secretis libri xvii" by Johann Wecker, Basel, 1582 pp. 690-692, 936-938. (Quotes della Porta verbatim)


"The Mysteryes of Nature and Art" by J. Bates. London, 1634, pp. 80-82.


"Pryrotechnia" by J. Babington, London, 1635, pp. 44-46.


"Deliciae physico-mathematicae" by D. Schwenter, Numberg, 1636, Pt 12, pp. 472-475.


"Ars magna lucis et umbrae," by A. Kircher, Rome, 1646 Pt. 2, pp. 826-827.



Copyright 2002 by Mike Wilson, 124 N. Second, Osborne, KS 67473. <kitearcher at hotmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org