What's the color of Beijing in spring? Is it the light blue of the sky shown after spring rain? Or is it the refreshing green of the buds by the city wall? Well, Beijing is colorful in spring.
Every year around Clear and Bright (around April. 5th), Beijing swifts that migrated from southern Africa will arrive in Beijing, where they could find one after another swallow-shaped "zhayan" kite dancing with them in the sky. Such a typical picture of spring has been an old memory for people born in Beijing.
"Zhayan" kites are also called swallow kites because of their shape. These swallow-shaped kites are finely made and delicately painted, which are symbolic of Beijing kites. Among the "zhayan" kites, fat-swallow-shaped ones stand for male adults, while the slim-swallow-shaped ones stand for female adults; fledgling-shaped ones stand for babies, and the ones shaped like two swallows wing-to-wing represent a couple. These personified kites boast the characteristics of Beijing, reflecting a culture that highlights auspiciousness.
"Jin Yu Man Tang (house full of gold and jade)," is a Chinese idiom used to describe wealthy life or knowledgeable people. This typical "fat swallow" kite is named "Jin Yu Man Tang". Now it has become a symbol of cultural connotation. People hang such kites as decoration in their home, bringing a touch of "cultural heritage," while expressing a wish for an auspicious life.
Yang Liping: On this "Jin Yu Man Tang," we can see a giant goldfish painted on the kite, and the jade is symbolized by the green color of the lotus leaves. That's how we had "gold (jin)" and "jade (yu)" and named the kite "Jin Yu Man Tang."
Yang Liping，A representative of national intangible cultural heritage “zhayan” kites (swallow-shaped kites)
Kites originated in China. In ancient times, kites were not merely toys for fun or a sport for keeping fit; they were used in the military as well. In "Along the River During the Qing Ming Festival," a famous painting by the Northern Song Dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan (c.1085-1145), people were captured flying kites; In one of the four classic Chinese novels "Dream of the Red Chamber," its author Cao Xueqin mentioned kites repeatedly, like butterfly-shaped kites, fish-shaped kites, beauty-shaped kites, etc. These kites expressed the wishes of the heroes and heroines of the book.
Combining the kites shaped and painted like "yao (sparrowhawk)" from southern China, and the kites like "yuan (glede)" from northern China, Cao Xueqin created a brand-new type of "zhayan" kites. "Zhayan" kites have the advantages of both the "yao" and "yuan" kites, boasting northern features on the upper half and southern features on the lower half. Consequently, "zhayan" kites are also called "nanyaobeiyuan," meaning southern sparrowhawk and northern glede.
Nowadays, spring outings, flower-watching and kite-flying are still major activities of the Chinese people in their leisure time. The kites, carrying people's best wishes for life, fly high into the sky.