Kites have been delighting children and adults for centuries. Makara Sankranti (15 January) is a popular day to fly kites. Let’s look at the important roles these ‘air swimmers’ have been playing to amuse, delight and inspire us!
Kites and military strategies
Who would have thought that the lovely, colourful kites were once flown, not for pleasure, but for planning a defence strategy against the enemies! Around 200 BC, General Han Xin of the Han Dynasty was desperate to find out how far his army had to tunnel underground in order to breach the defences of the city that he was planning to attack. The kite gave him a pretty good idea. So he flew a kite over the walls of the city to measure the distance!
Admiral Yi of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea used kites in a different way. During an invasion, he commanded his navy to use kites, each with specific markings, to direct the fleet to perform different orders. Now, how cool is that!
In the 19th century, Russians used kites to accurately tow torpedoes.