Kites are so numerous in kinds and design nowadays that, in order to get at any kind of intelligent discussion of them, it will be necessary to segregate them into classes and varieties as the scientist does in his investigations of nature study. There is the great big subject of constructive sport called kite making. The name kite strikes joy to any live boy's heart and it does him good too. But kite making is too big, so we will try running some cross-roads thru, thus dividing it into smaller groups.
A large number of kites can be classed together as having the same general make-up and we will call the first, Class A, Plain Surface Kites. These kites have one general surface without any built out parts, and can be subdivided into two divisions: 1. Geometric and regular forms, 2. Irregular and representative forms.
There are two divisions of the geometric and regular forms: a. Tailless kites.
b. Kites with tails, regular in form. The two divisions of irregular forms are: a. Set pieces of design.
b. Insect, bird, animal, and man kites.
This brings the analysis for Class A down to variety which will be discussed in succeeding chapters.
Class B. Box-Kites, has six subdivisions:
Class C. Combined Kites. Box-kites may have additions of plain surfaces, or combinations of curved surfaces and plain ones, giving shapes that represent hollow forms of fish, animals, etc.
1. Straight extensions of plain surfaces.
2. Hollow shapes representing animal and mechanical forms.
Class D. Kites in Series. These are made up of combined kites also, but the combinations are so different that they belong in a class by themselves.
1. Compound kites.
2. Kites in tandem.
a. Connected directly to one line.
b. Connected by individual lines of some length to one main line.
3. Dragon Kites.
The plain kites are the more numerous for several reasons. They are more easily constructed, take less time, use less material, fly in lighter breeze, and are usually more stable in air. The construction as a rule consists of two or three sticks as a framework with a covering stretched over it so as to form a simple plane that is exposed to the breeze. Of course, there are tricks in making the plain kites, but almost any of them can be made to fly by either warping the surface or attaching a tail.
Box-kites require considerable time and are more difficult in construction. They are a built up framework with cloth or strong paper coverings. The frames must be kept light and strong, and a process of trussing is necessary to accomplish this. The covering seldom covers the whole framework but usually is made in bands. The space enclosed by a band is called a cell. Most box-kites consist of a forward and rear cell, that is a band is found at each end around the framework, transversely to the length of the kite. Some of the most practical working kites are of the box-kite type. By working kite, I mean kites that are used for a purpose other than pleasure.
Some box-kites have extended wings of plain surfaces to gain more lifting power, or for poise, and the application of these appendages serves to explain the combination of kinds that form this group.
In the group "Kites in Series" we have kites of the same kind fastened rigidly together making one kite, called a compound kite, also kites fastened one after the other a few feet apart on one line and all started up at one time, and still another set of similar kites in which a number of kites are put up on individual strings, one at a time, for perhaps 300 feet, and are then attached to the main kite line. Boys sometimes succeed in pulling up as high as forty kites on one line by this method. Another very interesting and beautiful series is the Chinese dragon kite type. In this a number of kites are harnessed together with about three cords running from head to tail.
These various groups will receive more explicit directions in separate chapters as we proceed. So far in our analysis we have been dealing with kinds of kites as to construction. There will be a number of chapters on various other features of kite work and accessories, including, Kite Decoration, Messengers, etc. The Chinese and Japanese people have been making kites a great many years and have become very skilful workers and decorators. Their decorations seem to tend more toward the dipicting of ugliness and fierceness instead of beauty and color harmony, altho many of the color combinations are very effective. The tendency toward fierceness can well be understood when we consider that it has a part in their religion, it being supposed that such ugly monsters helped to drive away the evil spirits.
The large Japanese square kite, which is rectangular in shape instead of square, usually has a big head with plenty of the whites of the eyes and teeth showing. Some very fine specimens have been exhibited at our "Kite Tournaments". They expend quite freely in making up their kites, use costly ornaments and considerable gilt and black. The gilt is usually very good that is used.
While the orientals have shown us some stunning effects in decoration, I believe that the future will show some results of color harmony and artistic spacing that will be much superior to theirs. We are busy as yet trying to master the kite craft from the constructive and flying side, but we are getting on, even on the decorative side as well.
We are now ready to discuss variety in the next chapter.