The flying kite through the National Museum of Chinese Art

The flying kite through the National Museum of Chinese Art

The flying kite through the National Museum of Chinese Art.

The various paper flying kites exhibited in this article are one of the peculiarities of the National Museum of Chinese Art, located in Beijing, which demonstrates the diversity of contemporary art in this country. This cultural center was inaugurated in 1963. With an important collection of art not only Chinese, but also from the rest of the continent and the West, it has also become the first museum that founded the public education department, due to its purpose of encouraging the artistic learning of the visitors.

Brief history of the flying kite.

Kites are important in China, as they are part of their rich material heritage and are deeply rooted in popular art. Its history goes back to the 5th century BC, as the philosopher and artist Mozi made wooden flying kites in the shape of a bird, which is considered the traditional way. Since then, many legends revolve around the use of the same as flying machines, as in the case of General Han Xin in the first century BC. Thus, it is also linked to the comet with the military universe. In the 1st century AD begins the introduction of the invention in Korea and Japan, and in the last years of the thirteenth century, Marco Polo integrates it in Europe. The kite ends up being used in South and East Asia. From the Chinese X century, the use of these particular instruments is already determined as an activity linked to folklore. The Weifang International Kite Festival, held in the prefecture city of Weifang, within the province of Shandong, the birthplace of Mozi and therefore considered the origin of the Chinese flying kite, is one of the examples that extols the importance of this toy within the culture of the country until today.

Five examples of comets. National Museum of Chinese Art.

Next, the article tries to approach the reader to this folkloric collection of the Chinese museum, through a brief study of five comets that also help to understand the iconography and iconology that decorates these toys. The examples of the collection are dated between the nineties and already entered the second millennium.

The gigantic bird, this swallow, looks forward in a captivating but certainly threatening way, while spreading its wings, which harbor a lake inhabited by wild cranes. A band of national motifs arranged in bands gives way to the tail of the bird, where several deer frolic out of a red leaf forest. This is how Fei Baoling symbolizes spring, which is perceived as still “very nascent and somewhat cold”. An artist who deserves a brief comment, because it is recognized as one of the most important in the field of the swallow-shaped kite, of which Crane and deer are examples in spring.

Wearing a hanfu or traditional clothes from China, in red; the imperial chromatic. Zhong Kui hides his roguish face behind a fan, while tilting his eyes. Behind him, a blue little devil protects him holding a beige parasol with orange ornaments. Of the same race, a possible rebel is located below, being trampled by the god. Zhong Kui is a demon exterminator by nature, since he was granted this gift and quite comically is evident in this comet.

This simple colored comet of Qimin represents an octopus, a symbol that in its Asian context can be interpreted as a primordial creature, that which removes the cosmos to originate from a single element everything else. Its tentacles, in fact, reach every part of the existing and remember, in some way, that we are not only tied to our origin, but also to our destiny. The pomegranates that are inscribed in his head refer to fertility – for its many fruits – and, therefore, also allude to creation, linking with the mollusk.

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