Kites, we’ve all seen them, flown them, but have never really tried our hands at making them, especially not transforming them to look like the Terracotta army’s bronze chariots!
This, however, posed no challenge for octogenarian Zhang Tianwei (張天偉), a master kite craftsman and retired technician from China’s Shaanxi province.
Zhang’s father was a famous kite craftsman too, and the family has been making kites for generations.
“Making kites is a family tradition. I am influenced by my father and have enjoyed doing it since a young age,” old master Zhang chimed fondly while reminiscing about his father.
When Zhang was a young boy, he was deeply intrigued by traditional kites and appreciated their beauty. Yet he thought it would be revolutionizing if kites were dynamic and could move like a bird flapping its wings.
However, the young Zhang did not have the skill or the resources then to put his dreams into action.
As a young man, Zhang learned to repair watches and even worked in a screw factory, before taking on a role at an electrical appliances factory. Years of working with machines equipped Zhang with the technical knowledge to work with mechanics and take the first step in making his childhood come true.
Zhang shared: “I was a machine designer in a factory. My working experience enabled me to build the wind-driven mechanical rotation system on the kites.”
The mechanical kite, inspired by the Terracotta army’s bronze chariots, is Zhang’s pride and joy, and also marks the epitome of the master’s craftsmanship.
However, the old master is not ready to take a break from kite-making just yet.
“I’m already 80 years old but I still want to be innovative and come up with new ideas,” Zhang said, adding that the most difficult aspect of kite-making is “deciding what to do next, not how to do it.”
It looks like old master Zhang is determined to continue learning about the craft and keep honing his skills. His passion and determination to keep a childhood dream alive continue to inspire many youths even to this day.