Welcome to baoku, the online learning library of the Confucius Institute at Mason. Baoku, in Chinese, means "treasure trove"—we hope that you find the site's useful information to be just that.

Traveling Trunk


Kites were invented 2,800 years ago in China where the best materials were available: silk fabric for the sail, strong silk threads for the string, and light-weight bamboo for the frame (35). The existence of kites lead to dreams of flying which were realized with the invention of the airplane.

During the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), giant kites were constructed that could carry a person high into the air to see the ground below (36). This contraption was called a “wooden black-eared kite,” named after a bird of prey that soared above and looked down for food. They took three years to make and could only be flown once.

Kites were first used for recreational purposes during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) by the royal family (36). Because they were originally made out of silk, only the rich could afford them. With the invention of paper, kites became cheaper and this activity was made available to the public. The name fēng zhēng came about around 910 AD when Li Ye attached a whistle to a kite. Flying high in the wind (fēng), the whistle sounded like a Chinese instrument (zhēng). The Chinese thereafter adopted the name fēng zhēng for kites.